Blog Archives

Disappearing Act

Hi! Remember me? I pulled a disappearing act over the weekend because I decided to take my own advice. I haven’t been feeling all that well – temperature a little high (but just under emergency room high) and a dry cough. In order to keep it from getting any worse I did nothing but rest all weekend. That included not blogging, not answering e-mails or comments, and completely zoning out to multiple movies on Netflix.

IMG_1841.jpg

Highlights included taking Buster for his walks in the 25C heat. It’s like summer up in here!

I also made a giant dessert.

IMG_8644.JPG

IMG_8647.JPG

My dad kind of freaked out that I made such a giant dessert while I was supposed to be resting. In my defence, I needed to get off my butt for a while, and what better way to do that than with the lure of chocolate? The layers go as such: brownies, chocolate peanut butter cup pieces, chocolate pudding, whipped peanut butter cream cheese, whipped cream. My oh my, let me tell you, this dessert is off the charts. I know all the layers seem time consuming, but I used a boxed brownie mix (I’m sick remember!) and whipped up the rest in the 35 minutes that the brownies baked. The taste is ridiculous. So many good things happening in there.

It’s also the dessert for today’s Thanksgiving dinner. I loooove big dinners as it’s an excuse to make dishes that don’t always fit into the everyday lineup. Today however I’ll be taking it easy again. I see my doctor on Wednesday but I’m debating on going in on this holiday day. I definitely need to have a chest x-ray to see if my cough is a symptom of lung toxicity, which is basically when the chemotherapy poisons your lungs. I may pull another disappearing act until I know I’m better. If cancer is teaching me anything, it’s that my health always comes first. Obligations are never as important or demanding as being alive and well. Take care friends!

Project Food Blog Challenge #3 – Keeping It Classy: A Beer Filled Dinner Party

Three months ago, I moved from my small Atlantic Canadian hometown to the country’s largest city. My first time ever living away from my home province of New Brunswick. Apart from learning a lot about other cultures here in the self-proclaimed “multicultural capital of the world,” I’ve also learned a lot about my own Maritime culture. Or rather, people’s perception of Maritime culture.

IMG_2498
At first, I was taken aback to hear that the rest of Canada stereotypes Atlantic Canadians as heavy drinkers. I mean, we just love our beer as much as the next Canuck!

However, over the past three months, I have learned the stereotypes are in fact true. Us Maritimers really do love our booze more when compared to the rest of Canada. These Ontario folk have two glasses of wine on a Friday and call it a night. Meanwhile, that’s just a usual weeknight in New Brunswick!

IMG_2501

When reading through the third challenge of Project Food Blog, I immediately became weary…

Challenge Prompt: Celebrate! You’ve made it this far, and the next challenge is to hold a party for your friends and family (at least four guests, you can include yourself in the 4 person count). Whether you’re an experienced host or an entertaining newbie, get creative and host a luxurious dinner party where your guests will discover new tastes and exotic flavors. 

First things first, I still live like a college student. I have never thrown a dinner party. Any parties I have thrown have been far from “luxurious.”

Secondly, the majority of my friends in Toronto are all Maritimers such as myself. The type of people who blow through a case of Keith’s and end up gathered in the kitchen for a traditional “Maritime Kitchen Party” by the end of the night.

With this in mind, I decided to create a “luxurious” menu with a little bit of kick. Something that would take the class up a notch and yet make us still feel right at home.

image 

That’s right my friends, a menu where every dish features beer as an ingredient. 

Who said beer can’t be luxurious? ;)

Because I worked both Saturday & Sunday this weekend, I opted to do the majority of my food preparations Friday night. Then have everyone over after work on Saturday night. The Friday night in the kitchen was kind of fun!

I began by baking a loaf of Beer Bread with Guinness & Molasses.

IMG_2508

Recipe found here with a few changes.

4 cups flour (I used 1/2 all purpose, 1/2 whole wheat)

1/4 cup sugar molasses 

2 Tablespoons baking powder

12 ounces beer (NOT light beer) (I used Guinness draught)

2 teaspoons salt

2 eggs, slightly beaten

IMG_2511 IMG_2513

IMG_2515 IMG_2522

 

While that puppy was in the oven, I got to work on baking project number two: Guinness Stout Brownies.

IMG_2525

Recipe found here.

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted room temperature butter, cut into cubes

8 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 6oz bittersweet, 2 oz semi-sweet)

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

4 large eggs, at room temperature (I used cold eggs and it didn’t explode or anything)

1 cup superfine or granulated sugar

1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout beer, room temperature

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/8 cup (about) confectioners’ sugar for dusting

IMG_2527

IMG_2529 IMG_2532

Adding the Guinness to the brownie batter…

IMG_2536

 

With the baked goods out of the way, I got to my cold salad that would sit in the fridge overnight: Pale Ale Cabbage Slaw.

IMG_2538

I was deeply disturbed when this recipe called to boil the beer right off the bat. Boiling beer feels so wrong!

1 pound red cabbage, finely shredded

1 pound green cabbage, finely shredded

1 package (1 pound) carrots, shredded I cheated and bought bagged slaw

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup sugar

½ tsp celery seeds

1 bottle (12 oz) Pale Ale Beer I used Bud Light Lime

1/3 cup grape seed oil canola oil

¼ cup cider vinegar rice vinegar

1 TBLS honey mustard

1 ½ tsps salt

½ tsp black pepper

IMG_2541 IMG_2540 
Buying the bagged slaw made the prep for this so easy! By then my bread was done, rising quite a bit thanks to the yeast in the beer. I couldn’t help myself – I had a slice right away!

IMG_2557

The bread powered me through the last bit of Friday night prep. I put the brownies in the oven then got started on the sauce for the Chicken & Tofu in a Peanut & Beer Sauce.

IMG_2543
Beer and peanut butter. Two of my favourite things!

The original recipe comes from here and is meant for chicken wings. Chicken thighs were on sale and tofu is cheap! What can I say, I’m a frugal hostess.

24 chicken wings, tips removed 5 chicken legs/thighs and 1 block tofu

1 12-oz can Lager Beer  used Brava Lager (local!)

½ cup molasses

¼ cup creamy peanut butter

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

2 Tablespoons mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon chili powder

1 Tablespoon chopped parsley Forgot this step – oops!

 

IMG_2546

I’ll admit, it felt very odd mixing those ingredients together all in one pot as I see them being so different. But it smelled heavenly!

I prepared the raw chicken and sauce so I could pop it in the oven come party time.

IMG_2547

Meanwhile, I MacGyvered a tofu press to work its magic overnight.

IMG_2569

Soon the peanut butter sauce smells were overtaken by chocolate smells indicating the stout brownies were done…

IMG_2560

What?? You’ve got to test this stuff before you serve it to other people ;)

IMG_2564

Dense, fudgy, rich. A definite stamp of approval.

 

On Saturday, I had two more people confirm they’d be coming. I started to worry that I might not have enough food. Plus, not everyone was scheduled to arrive at the same time. Thankfully, my roommie was on the ball and prepared a Cheesy Beer Dip while I was away at work.

IMG_2566

I’m told the dip was Cheez Whiz, cream cheese, and beer. Bam.

IMG_2594

Along with some Vodka Tomatoes.

IMG_2574
Made by poking holes in tomatoes and letting them soak in the goodness. Thank you Megan!! Both munchies were a hit!

Meanwhile, I still had one last dish to make: Cheddar and Beer Soup.

IMG_2571
The veggies, to offset the butter, beer and cheese of course.

IMG_2577

Recipe found here.

2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)

2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)

1 (12-oz) bottle ale such as Bass I used Kronenbourg – a French ale.

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 lb extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably English; rind removed if necessary), grated (4 cups)

4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), cooked and crumbled

IMG_2587IMG_2581

When buying the cheese, I didn’t really clue in to the fact that I’d be adding the whole pound to the soup.

IMG_2583

To put it in perspective, the volume of cheese was equal to the volume of liquid in the pot!

IMG_2606

 

Before I knew it, my guests had trickled in and the dishes were ready to eat!

The Starter

IMG_2607

The cheddar and beer soup was very hearty. Mostly cheesy with a slight hint of beer. We briefly discussed how many servings of cheese there were in one bowl, then decided it was in our best interest not to know. I toasted the beer bread and it made for a perfect dipper! The Guinness and molasses flavours definitely shine through.

 

The Main

IMG_2630

The sauce for this was uh-mazing. You must make it. Sooner rather than later.

IMG_2636

With the coleslaw. This was a hit as well. The flavours were very subdued and it was a nice light side dish to go with the heavier dishes. I think the Bud Light Lime was a great choice for this.

IMG_2635

 

The Dessert

IMG_2641

The ice cream was actually a last minute thought. After trying the rich brownies, I knew they needed to be paired with cool and creamy vanilla ice cream. You can’t taste the Guinness in the brownies at all, although I dare to say it brings out the intensity in the chocolate flavour. I saw people go back for seconds on this one!

 

The Cast of Characters

IMG_2588

Megan, my roommie, hostess extraordinaire. Living together for three months and already our kitchen has turned into a foodie paradise.

IMG_2614

Amanda, the only non-Maritimer present, but adopted as one of our own.

IMG_2620

Billy and Jer, keeping up the “luxurious” standard.

IMG_2619

Tom, always ready with an inappropriate comeback.

IMG_2622

Colin, who says “no” to mix or ice.

IMG_2597

Me! After pulling off my first ever “luxurious” dinner party for my decidedly un-classy group of friends from back home. We ate, we drank, we ate what we drank. Proof that we Maritimers may like our drink, but damn it, we know how to do our drink well. Thank you to Foodbuzz for inspiring this gathering. My lush friends and I had a blast!

 

Voting for the third challenge opens Monday, October 4. Vote for my booze-infused dinner party here!! And remember to keep it classy blogland!

A Sugary Sunday

Crap. Is the weekend really over? I’m pretty bitter over that lost hour – I coulda used it!

I slept in till 8am today which is pretty much unheard of for me. Except, seeing as it was well past midnight before I went to bed, it doesn’t add up to much extra sleep :(

Decided to take a rest day since I worked out twice on Saturday. Rest days call for fancy breakfasts in bed :)

IMG_4818 
Protein pancakes! This is a new recipe that I sort of made up as I went along, and turned out delicious!

  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • cinnamon
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 cup soy milk

IMG_4827

Topped with coconut, fresh strawberries and sugar-free syrup. Remember when I was complaining about frozen strawberries earlier in the week? Well, fresh ones were on sale for $5/5lbs. And they’re pretty tasty too! They’re the giant strawberries… in season in California maybe?

IMG_4829 
I was pretty proud of myself for making up a decent batch of pancakes on a whim like this. However, my usual protein pancakes/waffles with oatmeal and cottage cheese aren’t quite as dry.

Lunch featured some maple smoked salmon.

IMG_4834
On a english muffin with honey mustard, fresh dill, spinach and swiss cheese. Delicious!!! I’m on a dill kick, it adds such an interesting flavour!

Shortly after I had a chat with Holly about our upcoming adventure to Banff, Alberta! Those of you who are interested in coming, expect an e-mail soon. I booked my flights last week and will be booking our accommodations in Banff tomorrow. I am SO excited. I’ve been to California, but I’ve never been to Western Canada before. I can’t wait to see the mountains!!!

Then, it was on to more serious business. Brownie making business.

I saw this recipe from Zesty Cook for chocolate caramel brownies and knew it would make for a perfect Treat Monday contribution. I’m all for healthy-fying sweets, but not when I’m sharing them with other people. Let’s face it, healthy substitutions just plain suck when compared to the real thing :P

I didn’t double-check the recipe before I bought groceries yesterday, so I didn’t have all the right ingredients. But I still made do!

Started by mixing up a Duncan Hines chocolate fudge brownie pack as per the instructions on the box. I baked a little over half of it for about 15 minutes.

IMG_4840

As that was baking, in a pot I melted a package of Kraft caramels with 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup soy milk (less than what the recipe calls for – it seemed like a lot!)

IMG_4837

IMG_4839
Poured the caramel sauce on top of the brownies with chocolate chips…

IMG_4843
And added the rest of the brownie batter!

IMG_4846
It took a while for the rest to bake, 20-30 minutes? I really should have timed it as the bottom got a little crunchy. I just wasn’t in a precise mood today I guess ;)

IMG_4848
I cut it up into 25 little squares THREE of which I ate! Three brownies people!! Not to mention licking the bowl. But that’s a given.

brownie
Get these away from me asap! They are sooooo good! I actually felt a little sick after my brownie consumption as I’m not used to digesting so much crappy sugar at once :P Thankfully, I have my co-workers to pawn them off on for Treat Monday.

I made up for my mass brownie consumption with a giant salad for dinner.

IMG_4877

  • spinach
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • bell pepper
  • tomatoes
  • pickled beets
  • artichoke hearts
  • olives
  • grilled pork tenderloin
  • feta cheese
  • tzatziki

I used Liberty tzatziki which was absolutely fab. Thick and creamy, with a nice garlicky flavour to it.

IMG_4876

Might I add the pickled beets were also a wonderful addition. Thanks to Emily for helping me get the guts to try them!! (and now I officially feel like an old man for loving them)

IMG_4883

Short and sweet post tonight folks, I’ve got a 6am date with a spin bike. I have a feeling I’ll be sweating brownie batter out my pores :P

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite sweet treat? Cookies? Brownies? Cake? Cupcakes? Ice cream? Donuts? Pastries? I am 100% a cookie and brownie person. You could dangle any other sweet treat in front of me and I wouldn’t care. But that is definitely not the case with cookies and brownies!!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 485 other followers