March 30, 2009

sun-dried tomato salad dressing

sun-dried tomato salad dressing

My need for salad cycles. Sometimes, I'm not very interested and other times, it's like I'm craving it. I know, very weird, who the heck craves salad? But, I find that if we have been eating out a lot, I have a strong urge for something healthy and fresh tasting and that's when salad comes in. Makes sense, no?

But salad gets boring rather quickly when you don't have different dressings. I prefer to make my own and usually it's a quick balsamic dressing but sometimes I spice it up. Also, this recipe caught my eye because I have a bunch of sun-dried tomatoes kicking around. The original recipe asks for sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil but I used the dry ones. I'm sure the oil packed ones are more tastier but this dressing turned out very tasty too.

...

sun-dried tomato salad dressing
makes about 1 cup

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch of salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Put together all ingredients except for olive oil. Mix well.  

While whisking constantly, drizzle in oil.

Refrigerate & keep up to one week.

Recipe adapted from: Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette, Canadian Living Market Fresh Special Issue magazine, Summer 2008.

March 26, 2009

butter pecan pie

butter pecan pie

I remember being at a get together at a friend's home when I was younger. The mother had brought out tarts and some other chocolate desserts and we were so excited. My friend squealed with delight "I love these!" as she pointed to the butter pecan tarts. I had never seen or eaten a butter pecan tart at that point so I wondered whether I should go with the chocolate or try the tart. The tray was making it's rounds around the room, with her mother saying "you only get to choose one!"

Being swayed with my friends pure delight about the tarts, I nervously chose the tart over the chocolate dessert. I assumed it was chocolate tasting since the center was dark. I was imagining a sweet, warm chocolate center surrounded by yummy pastry. Boy, was I wrong.

I bit in and it was sugary sweet but not chocolate tasting at all. I didn't even know what caramel was at that time. I was disappointed. And then I felt the hardness of the pecans between my teeth. I hated nuts when I was younger. I tried hard to swallow down the bite I had taken, saddened that I didn't go for the chocolate dessert and now it was too late since we were only able to have one dessert.

pecans

And since that day, everything is second to chocolate. I will almost always pick a chocolate dessert or nothing at all. Over the years, I've grown to like fruit desserts (it helps when you have 2 apple trees in your yard) but you likely will never see my reach for anything caramel-like or otherwise. Especially butter pecan pie.

My husband enjoys his caramel-like desserts and made this butter pecan pie, and he replaced most of the sugar with splenda (I don't like complete substitution because I can really tell the difference in taste - you can use all sugar, if you wish). He made jokes of "more for me" when I tried to deter him from making it, swaying him to more of a chocolate-like dessert.

However, my tastes are slowly changing again. It was a tasty dessert. The four of us all ate our slices without a complaint. But, in the back of my mind, I had that thought, like when I was a little kid, that I wish it was a chocolate dessert.

Some things never really change I guess.

...

butter pecan pie

*1/2 cup brown sugar
*1 cup splenda
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple extract
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup milk

4 eggs

1 1/2 cup pecans

Combine the first 8 ingredients into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and whisk until everything is dissolved. Take off heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes..

Mix the eggs. Slowly pour milk/cream mixture into beaten eggs.

Put pecans in pie shell. Pour mixture into a homemade or store bought pie shell.

Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes. Place on rack to cool for 30 minutes. Serve.

* You can use 1.5 cups of sugar instead, if you prefer not to use sugar substitute.

March 24, 2009

oatmeal banana cake

oatmeal banana cake

The eating of bananas goes in cycles around here. Sometimes, we run out a day or two after we buy them and other times, they are getting brown and mushy and no one wants to go near them. Not even the little monkeys preschoolers that seem to climb my furniture like they were trees.

That's when banana breads or cakes come in.

I often make banana bread, in a loaf pan, but this is more of a cake. Easy recipe so if you are in a pinch to make something because you have guests coming. It makes a good "coffee cake" served with your favorite cup of coffee or tea.

...

oatmeal banana cake
Makes 18 squares

1 cup margarine, at room temperature
1.5 cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs
2 mashed ripe bananas
1 tbsp vanilla

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Generously butter a 9x13-inch (3-L) baking dish. In a bowl, stir flour with oats, baking powder and salt.

Beat margarine with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in bananas and vanilla.

In another bowl, stir flours with oats, baking powder and salt. Stir into wet mixture. Add chocolate chips.

Turn into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Slice into squares.

Adapted from: Oatmeal-banana snacking cake, Chatelaine

March 22, 2009

It's not a food post but I've heard orchids are edible.

orchids

It's snowing here.

I can't believe it.

The orchids on my dining room table are looking saddened too. Thought I'd share them with you, if you are unfortunate enough to be also looking outside at falling snow.

A friend brought me this orchid for my birthday some weeks ago and they are still alive and bright. It's funny, it's the only potted plants/flowers we have in our house. We have 2-3 of them. They are very easy to take care of, not needing to be watered often at all. Good thing, since we seem to kill everything else. Except for herbs. I have a windowsill of herbs and they mostly manage to survive but that's because I see them several times a day, and I snip them when I need them in my cooking so it reminds me to take care of them.

orchids, sepia

Next week I'll take some pictures of my herbs. I have oregano and sage on my windowsill already but we also started some basil and mint, alongside some other vegetable seeds. I'm hoping they will come out of the soil soon.

Not that we can plant them in the garden anytime soon though.

sigh.


March 20, 2009

Cranberry-Grapefruit Cooler

Cranberry-Grapefruit Coolers

We had an abundance of cranberry and grapefruit juices, so I looked around for a drink that might incorporate each. Couldn't exactly find one but this one came close. Though I'm not a big cooler fan, this wasn't too bad. A bit sweet for me but it goes down easy enough. I'd make it again. It would be really great on a hot summer day, hanging out with friends in the back yard. If that day ever comes...

...which leads me to this...

first day of spring 2009

Yes, it's the first day of spring. While others in the world have flower buds coming in, I've got icicles. It's getting there but I really wish spring would hurry up!

Have a good weekend!

...

Cranberry-Grapefruit Cooler
serves 2

1 Shot Russian Standard Vodka
1 Shot Disaronno Amaretto
3 Shots Cranberry Juice
2 Shots Grapefruit Juice

Combine above ingredients & pour over ice cubes in a highball glass.

Recipe adapted from: Cranberry Cooler

March 17, 2009

tuna burgers, St. Paddy's Day inspired.

tuna burgers

I took my kids to the Science World today and was wondering why the heck there seemed to be so many kids wearing green.  I finally figured it out.

My boy's favorite color is green so I thought we should do something about it.  First, we came home and all changed into green clothing.   Then I went on about leprauchans, pots of gold and shamrocks.  They looked at me puzzled so I asked who wanted to help me make green tuna burgers.  That got even stranger looks.

I was already going to make tuna burgers so a little shot of green dye in my tuna "patties" is right up the alley for St. Paddy's Day, don't ya think?  Yes, I'm pretty sure tuna has nothing to do with the Irish but throw me a bone here, ok.  Pretty good for last minute idea.

Don't forget to have a pint of green beer with your green burger too :)

...

tuna burgers
makes 6 patties

3 cans(184 g net weight) of tuna, water packed
3 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp dry dill
generous pinch of salt

Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Form into 6 patties. Cook in oiled frying pan for 8-10 minutes, turning the patty once.  Serve on bun.

* If you want them green, you'll have to add some food coloring to the ingredients, before you form the patties.

March 16, 2009

eating in banff

We got into Banff and I was flat out on my back. I have an old work injury that gets re-hurt every couple of years and it results in me being pretty much bed-ridden. What joy I tell you.

The Smashed Tomato pizzasRotating advil and tylenol, to ease the pain, I am bored of watching tv and am getting hungry. I peruse the Rocky Mountain Room Service and find a menu for pizza from a place called The Smashed Tomato.

I instantly laugh. The thing is, my daughter often runs after her brother, saying "I'm going to smash you like a tomato". Isn't that strange? AND she had asked me for pineapple pizza the other day. This was a no brainer, I HAD to order from them.

A ham 'n pineapple for the kids and a meat lover's (mostly for my carnivore hubby).

The pizza hit the spot but I was a tad disappointed. It's not that the pizza was bad but I think that upon hearing the funky name of the place, I had visions of the pizza being like the pizza from the The Funky Pickle, here in Edmonton. Something more original in flavor. But it was not. My fault to make assumptions.


...


Melissa's Missteak
When travelling with young children, you're choice in restaurants is usually limited. How I would love to do some fine dining, but that's just not in the cards, reserved for those rare dates with the hubby. For now, I'll be happy with any place that doesn't have a indoor playgym... now that's fine dining!

My sister-in-law mentioned a place called Melissa's Missteak that didn't turn her away last time when she brought in children. The outside of the building reminded me of Bavaria, with it's Tudor-style facade, except there were no baskets of flowers hanging outside, likely due to the cold weather. I was almost expecting some oompa-pa music when we went inside but there was none. It's a large lofty-like building, very rustic cabin-style, so very fitting since Banff is in a National Park. Lanterns and flags from around the world hanging from the rafters give the place a casual feel.

They accomodated us (we were a large group) and the staff were all very nice and friendly. We weren't very hungry to begin with, since we ate a late breakfast, so we ordered food to split between the four of us.


The children shared the Cheezy Jane burger and K and I shared the Sirloin Steak Sandwich with a caesar salad side. All made with Alberta beef.

Melissa's Missteak lunch


We were pleased. And the service was quick, especially good when you are going somewhere without an indoor playgym.

---

Smashed Tomato Pizza
100 Owl St.
Banff, Alberta

Melissa's Missteak
218 Lynx Street
Banff, Alberta

March 14, 2009

Banff

Banff

We've been away, enjoying the beautiful scenery of Banff. Unfortunately, we ended up with really cold weather. We left Edmonton with frigid -32 celsius and it slowly warmed up in the week. slowly.

We were mostly indoors, enjoying water slides and an indoor playground (actually, the kids, not me) but we did manage to get out for a mini-hike when it got warmer.

mini hike in Banff

... and a bit of shopping in the town...

going shopping in banff

Food related posts coming up in the week.

March 9, 2009

seeing orange

orange diptych

With the blustery weather we've been experiencing, I've been daydreaming of warmer climates and travel. Standing at my dining room window, I see the snow, once again, covering the sidewalks that will need to be painstakingly, cleared away, one shovel scoop at a time. As I step back, my eyes stop upon all the oranges in the fruit bowl and the half-eaten slices, left behind by my children, on their plates.

I'm not a big fruit eater. I have to make an effort to remember to do so but I get reminders from my eldest, who always requests an apple or banana almost everyday. When I was pregnant with her, I had huge cravings for oranges. I remember going to go buy large bags of them and I would easily eat 3-4 a day. It was then, during a citrus gorging session, I realized I have never seen an actual orange growing on a tree.

I really don't know how I haven't. We've been to numerous tropical places. I remember taking pictures of papayas and pineapples growing on shrubs. Looking up to see coconuts and bananas hanging from trees. I have eaten plums and peaches, right off the tree, but oranges, well, it has somehow evaded me. I was close once, certain I could smell the citrus in the air but it was wishful thinking.  Disappointment, as a port of call, during a cruise, to the Florida Keys didn't allow for enough time to venture to an orange farm.

So, instead I grab my camera and snap a few shots of my bright, cheery-looking oranges. Once again, daydreaming, maybe next year I'll get away, far away from this snow, to a place where I can pluck an orange right off it's branch. Somewhere warm, to make me forget of the snow and wind that is mocking me by creating a huge drift, right upon that very shovel that will need to be put to work, for the umpteenth time this season.

March 6, 2009

crepes suzette with nutella filling

crepes suzette

This week we celebrated my birthday and I woke up to this!!  Crepes suzette, with nutella inside each crepe. Chocolate and oranges go so well together. You'll find the recipe after the jump.

We also went out to dinner to the The Lingnan. I was craving some "crack chicken". You know what that is if you actually eat out at  Chicken for Lunch or watch the Family Restauraunt: The Quons on the Food Network channel. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take pictures of the food. I was so hungry when it came, I just dug in. I'm lucky I got leftovers too.  Instead, I leave you pictures of the funny looking fish in their aquarium, me and the kiddos were mesmerized by them...  

(a pregnant teenager fish with acne problems and well, ET... call home...)
aquarium fishies at the lingnan

Then I came home to some yummy dessert and a rendition of Happy Birthday that would definitely be considered a "pass" on American Idol auditions, but I loved it.   The Safeway label on the dessert container said "Mocambo single serve dessert". Mocambo must mean decadent chocolate heaven because that's what it was.  Yummy and rich.


mocambo single serve dessert

I'm spoiled rotten. Feels good to be me :) 

Have a good weekend!

...


crepes suzette

crepes recipe:

3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon melted, unsalted butter*
1 1/2 cups milk

In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the eggs and melted butter and stir until smooth. Add the milk and mix well.

Heat a nonstick pan, melt 1 tsp butter over moderate heat. Pour in 2 or 3 tablespoons of batter. Cook the crepe until it is golden brown on the bottom; then flip it, using a spatula. Remove when golden brown on both sides. Continue until all the batter is used up

we use margarine most of the time and it turns out just as well, shhhh, don't tell wolfgang :)

wolfgang puck recipe


orange sauce:
serves 2

75 ml/2.5fl oz orange juice & pulp (from 1-2 medium oranges)
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp Grand Marnier or some orange brandy
25g/1oz unsalted butter

nutella, to fill crepes

Combine the first 3 ingredients. Then melt the butter in the frying pan and pour in the sauce to warm up. Put the first crepe in the pan to warm up and slide onto the plate. Continue with 3 other crepes. Fill crepes with desired amount of nutella and pour the remaining sauce over the crepes. Garnish with sliced oranges and serve.

March 4, 2009

caffe latte

espresso for two please!

He loves his "presso" or "coffee", as he calls it sometimes. Loves helping make it, filling and tamping down the grounds in the metal filter basket. Then, stirring in the milk and sugar in his favorite green espresso cup. He starting asking for it when he was 2 years old. I find it strange he likes the taste of coffee, I only started liking it after I finished university.  And yes, he only ever gets decaf.

I stumbled upon our espresso maker when walking through The Bay. I was shopping around for a wedding gift and saw 5 boxes of them on a clearance shelf. It was marked down twice and we paid about $60. I still can't believe it.  We've had it for years and it's been making us decent espresso every since.  I hope it never croaks because we won't be able to find another machine that works this well for that price.

...

caffe latte
serves 1

Brew an one part espresso shot into a cup.
Pour 4 parts of steamed milk into the cup.

 Add a biscotti or small cookie on the side and enjoy!

March 2, 2009

ready to crack, I'm just saying.

Fresh Brown Eggs
I had to make a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things since we were having guests over later in the day. What seemed like 20 minutes later, after all the bundling up and packing up of wee, whiny kidlets, we finally make our way to the store just for me to hear "Mom, I have to pee".

Sigh.  Nothing is ever quick and easy.

After the bathroom break, I start going to the aisles to pick up the few items, the kids start chanting to go see the horsies. Horsies, as in the $1 coin-operated rides they love. "OK, but only after I pick up these things", feeling guilty for dragging them out in the cold.

I hit the self-checkout, hoping for a quick exit.  The little ole granny next to me pipes out... 

"You know, those eggs, they are pretty much the same price at the farmer's market".

"Oh, yes, I know," I respond as I'm picking up my youngest who wants up and trying to juggle my basket of goods. 

"It's going on right now, I'm just saying."

"I forgot that the market is going on now.  Thank you." I answer, trying to scan in some strawberries, with children filling the air with the noise of wanting their horsies.

"I'm just saying, it's from the pie lady. She sells fresh eggs."

Damn it, why does this screen say it won't accept my club card?  Where is the self-checkout employee to override this?  God, this boy is getting heavy on my arm.

"I appreciate it. Maybe next time..." I say, smiling at her politely, since there is no way I would leave these eggs behind right now and wade through to the market with 2 whiny preschoolers who want to ride some damn ponies.

"I'm not saying you should go.  But, yeah, same price, right now,  I'm just saying".

Gosh, I have patience, but for a second,  I did have a bad thought... 

She's lucky I don't crack her like an egg, right now, I'm just saying. 

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