Blog Archives

Catch Up

Hi friends!! It feels like a while, doesn’t it? Would you believe, that after 15 months of blogging near daily, I’ve never gone more than one day without updating? I usually have guest blogs or something. But this time I’ve gone a whole weekend!

It was nice to use what little downtime I had doing nothing. But that gets boring after a while, and we’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

First things first, this girl can do a good grilled cheese.

IMG_2728

Wednesday night, Morgan and I had a conference call for No Limits Canada. Since I was without internet for what felt like a gajillion years, she invited me over for the Skype date!

She offered a choice of beer to start. I chose “Tuborg” because I could pronounce it in a funny Eastern European accent and the can claimed it was “pure gold.”

IMG_2730
Not bad actually!

I was most excited however for her grilled cheese! Morgan and I sort of have an ongoing joke between our blogs about grilled cheese sandwiches. When discussing what to make for supper, it was the obvious choice.

IMG_2736

Immediately impressed by her usage of the panini press.

IMG_2738

Poor Morgan was worried about getting the right bread and cheese for me. She doesn’t know yet that I’m easily pleased and the sandwich was deeelicious!

Of course, what’s grilled cheese without soup?

IMG_2733 
An “everything but the sink” soup. Perfection! Thanks for the dinner Morgan! Bagels at my place next? ;)

 

I can’t remember what happened on Thursday. But I do know I was at work all waking hours and did a leg workout that made it hard to sit down all day Friday.

Friday though, I got off work a little early which meant I had time to make a hot dinner! Those are hard to come by these days. I’m a busy bee!

IMG_2745

I started with this box of Eden Organic Kamut pasta. I assume ditalini refers to the little shape of the pasta.

I’m usually not a huge pasta fan because of the mushy texture, but I don’t mind these kinds made without white flour. The nutritional stats are a lot better too!

IMG_2748

I only cooked half the tiny box…

IMG_2744

…so I could plump the rest up with meat! 

IMG_2741 
A plain turkey sausage from my amazing local butcher. The sausages are HUGE. I threw it in a pan with some leeks, carrots, celery, spinach, tomato, onions and garlic.

IMG_2750

Defrosted a serving of tomato sauce I made a while ago with watered down tomato paste and various spices.

IMG_2752

The point of the meal was to eat something that would fill my belly up for the rest of the evening and that it did! Meat + pasta has a funny way of doing that ;) The pasta itself was pretty good, I really liked the shape and texture (remember, I don’t like regular pasta!). The sausage totally stole the show though.

Friday was also a special day in that it was National Fluffernutter Day (and my sister’s birthday – hi Sara!!)

Of course, this was a U.S. food holiday. Living in another nation, I thought it was okay I celebrate a day later on Saturday.

For those of you who don’t know, a fluffernutter is a sandwich spread with both peanut butter and marshmallow fluff.  It is a fabulous combo that seems to be mostly consumed by children. And, well, single 24-year-olds such as myself.

IMG_2762

So why am I talking about fluffernutters and showing you waffles? Oh friends. You know me better than that.

IMG_2779

This would be a fluffernutter wafflewich – french toasted. I mean, I had to celebrate in style, right?

IMG_2784

I spread my PB + fluff between two defrosted freezer waffles (I like Nature’s Path Maple Cinnamon), then I dipped my wafflewich in egg whites and cooked in a pan.

IMG_2774

Dipped in syrup of course! Look too decadent for you? The whole ridiculous wafflewhich with the sugar-free syrup is only 357 calories, 14g fat, 5g fibre, 40g carbs and 15g protein and 15g sugar.

I chased mine back with the usual coffee, in an unusual mug.

IMG_2788

Bahahaha, thank you Janetha for seeing this elephant mug and thinking of me!!! The ridiculousness of it suits me perfectly. Also, elephants are my favourite animal :)

 

The rest of my weekend was spent working at the running store with a wonderful run in between. I ditched my usual waterfront trail for a busy city street and it was fun!! I used to hate running on populated roads when I first began running because I was embarrassed. But now I’ve got enough kilometres under my feet that I just don’t care. It was entertaining to whiz down the sidewalks of the city.

Of course, after working 17 hours on my feet in two days and running in between, my legs are pretty darn cranky with me. Namely, my IT band, which is a brand new pain for me. So the plan for this holiday Monday is to rest, relax and recharge. I haven’t had a day off in 21 days so I think I deserve to be lazy for a day ;)

 

A few extra things:

Congrats to my bloggie friend Brie who completed her first ever marathon yesterday in Chicago!! She had many bumps through her training program and I couldn’t be more proud that she finished it!

In case you haven’t noticed, I didn’t make it through to the next round of Project Food Blog. Thank you to everyone who took the time out of their days to vote for each of the challenges! It was really fun to participate in, but I’m happy I no longer have to stress about it.

I wrote not one but two guest posts last week! Head on over to Leah’s blog to read my thoughts on Pre and Post Workout Nutrition. Then stop by Morgan’s blog for my tips on Meeting People in a New City.

Finally, the most exciting thing: I’m going to the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival! That means in less than four weeks, I’ll be in San Francisco with hundreds of other food bloggers. Cause ya know, I’m the type of person who casually goes to California for the weekend (that’s a joke, I’m SO not!). But after some careful planning, shifting of funds, and wonderful bloggie friends, I’ve decided that I should just GO. I mean, you’re only young and reckless once ;)

 

And with that, me and my giant flannel pants are back to bed to watch movies for the rest of the day. Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians! Eat some extra stuffing for me! Q&A’s will resume tomorrow, so you still have time to submit questions. See ya then!

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!

Project Food Blog Round 2: Finding My Roots – A Taste of Scotland

I suppose you could say I am a true Canadian through and through. My ancestry is a bit of a mixed bag. My last name German, my grandmothers are French and British. I hear there is a Norwegian in there, and according to family gossip, the possibility of an affair with an aboriginal.

However, there is one background that I familiarize myself with more than any other – Scottish.

My now deceased Papa was 100% Scottish despite his upbringing in Montreal. He was fluent in French until the day he died. But get enough rye in him and he could eerily mimic the Scottish tongue spoken by his own father.

n719571132_885755_8099

My Papa carried his Scottish traditions into his own family. I’ll never forget when my mother explained to me as a child that instead of French toast on Sundays, she ate blood pudding. I was horrified.

Of course, some of my mother’s traditions have trickled down into our family. Holiday meals are always paired with party crackers and paper crowns. We all drink Earl Grey and my mother insists we watch the Queen’s Message every Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, not one goes by without a mincemeat pie. My sisters and I even did highland dancing as children, complete with kilts, vests, and leather shoes.

I mean, just look at us. Our frizzy hair and pale complexions just scream “Scottish.”

IMG_1982

34578_523868043235_115400580_31202614_736720_n

When reading over the criteria for the second challenge of Project Food Blog I knew it was time to channel that inner Scot of mine. I can whip up a Lebanese meal no prob, but the food of “my people” has never quite tickled my culinary fancy.

Challenge Prompt: Ready to tackle a classic dish from another culture? Pick an ethnic classic that is outside your comfort zone or are not as familiar with… Try to keep the dish as authentic as the real deal…

Of course, what are Scots known for best? Haggis! I’ve never tried haggis before and was only further intrigued when my mother told me of my great-great-Nana Susan MacLeod (who I am named after) making haggis on the Isle of Skye.

Creates a lovely scene, no?

I thought so until I actually looked up the ingredients to haggis:

1 sheep’s lung (illegal in the U.S.; may be omitted if not available)

1 sheep’s stomach

1 sheep heart

1 sheep liver

1/2 lb fresh suet (kidney leaf fat is preferred)

I tried in vain to find a “healthier” version. I found a few using turkey hearts and necks. An off-base vegan version using lentils. But the more I looked the more grossed out I got by the whole thing. I mean, Scottish cooking isn’t necessarily known for being healthy or delicious. But I was convinced that I could make something without grossing myself, and my readers, out!

I skimmed through traditional Scottish recipes, determined to find something better than haggis, but could still challenge my vegetarian roots. I am still something of a “newbie” to all this meat-y cooking after all.

I ended up finding not one, but two dishes that got me licking my lips and excited to get in the kitchen!

First up: Scotch Eggs.

Boiled eggs wrapped in sausage. Protein + fat doesn’t get much better than this my friends.

IMG_2365

Both of these recipes come from the same website, featuring dozens of traditional Scottish recipes. The way they were made hundreds of years ago. The recipe for scotch eggs can be found here.

IMG_2366

I began by boiling five eggs, peeling, and dusting them in flour.

IMG_2375

The flour is so the sausage sticks. I learned this immediately because I almost accidentally skipped this step!

IMG_2372

I cheated a little bit on the sausage. You see, I live close to an amazing local butcher that carries a wide variety of organic sausage meats. In the name of finding a healthy balance,  I asked for a pound of chicken sausage meat that he ground up for me on the spot.

The recipe calls for light seasoning, but the sausage meat was already seasoned. So I just started wrappin’!

IMG_2377

Once wrapped, it’s time to bread them to hold them together. Just dip in an egg wash and coat in breadcrumbs.

IMG_2381

My breadcrumbs were bought at a supermarket. Something I guess my great-great-Nana didn’t have.

Scotch eggs are typically deep-fried but that did not sound appealing to me. Instead, I just poured a whack of canola oil in a pan and turned them a few times.

IMG_2390

They still got sufficiently greasy and crispy.

IMG_2395

I patted them dry upon removal from the pan.

IMG_2410

Then… the moment of truth. Time to slice one of these babies open!

IMG_2425 
IMG_2430

A perfectly boiled egg wrapped in perfectly cooked and seasoned sausage. A Scottish culinary success!!

But wait. There is something Scots love even more than ground animal parts.

Oatmeal.

And what better way to make that than in a…

Traditional Scottish Oatcake.

IMG_2398

This recipe can be found here and also goes by the name “bannocks.” I was drawn to the small ingredient list and simple method of preparation, however I learned there are several methods of making a “traditional oatcake.”

I started with some rolled oats, a pinch of salt and two pinches of baking soda. Yes, “pinch” is the proper measurement here.

IMG_2399

The recipe calls for bacon fat, however I don’t casually keep that stuff on hand. Instead I subbed in 2 tsp melted butter. Mixed with several tablespoons of boiling water to get a sticky mix. Rolled into more dry oats and divided into four sections.

IMG_2401

I picture Susan MacLeod making these in a cast-iron skillet over a hot wood stove.

I have a non-stick pan on an electric oven.

IMG_2405

Cooked until just browned. These were incredibly easy to make.

IMG_2440 
IMG_2441

Suddenly, I’m left with the perfect Sunday Scottish breakfast.

IMG_2433
Sure, it’s no blood pudding or haggis. That may be something best left to the experts in the Isle of Skye. Now if only I could count all those rye + waters as “finding my roots” as well.

** Voting for this challenge opens Monday, September 27. You’ll be able to vote for this post by clicking here and don’t forget to check out the other entries here!**

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 485 other followers