24 January 2011

British Invasion.

I've said it before and I'll likely say it again, I LOVE British food magazines.

With the strong Canadian dollar and the weak pound, I am able to subscribe to my beloveds (Olive, BBC GoodFood and Weight Watchers UK) and I love getting them in the mail every month!  (I'm pretty easy to please.)

Last week, the new Olive and BBC GoodFood came and hurray!  Lots to make!

First up was a Beef and Mushroom pie with Blue Cheese.  It was great BUT as usual, my crust fell apart and sank into my little pie.  AND my beef and mushroom filling didn't thicken up properly.  I combined the recipe in Olive with the recipe that came with one of the two magazines, a collaboration with Weight Watchers.  Maybe I should have cooked it longer?  I made the filling in the pressure cooker...

What? You want to know what it looks like?  Well hold it right there...

A little liquid with your crust?
 The secret to this pie was the blue cheese.  You roll it into the puff pastry crust!  Oh those Olive people are geniuses!  CLEVER by half!

So, despite my tears of frustration when the crust COMPLETELY sank into my pie, I managed to get through it.

I got through it so well in fact that I had to make Gregg's Perfect Pud from BBCGoodFood.  My favourite dessert, Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Now just wait a second.  I don't have a pudding steamer thingie.  But I do have a muffin tin and a bigger roasting tray.  So I made the cakes in muffin tins and it worked BEAUTIFULLY!  What didn't work so well was my toffee sauce.  I cooked it for TWICE as long as the recipe said and it still didn't get very brown.  Having never made it before, I kept thinking the magic would happen eventually, but it didn't.  I soldiered through and ate that sugary buttery bunch of heaven!

Sticky Toffee LOOOOOOVES Me.
So yea, it looks like a cupcake but it's OH SO VERY MUCH MORE!  :)  (The point count for the amount I ate of dessert last night?  21 points JUST for pudding.  TWENTY-ONE POINTS!  That's a treat that won't be repeated very often, just two more times each for G and I until all those little STP muffins are eaten!)

Pick up the February issues.  Lots of good stuff inside and I for one am going to keep cooking from them.

On an unrelated note, we close on our new house in a matter of weeks.  It's very scary and getting harder to cook as the kitchen and related items are slowly being packed away waiting to be moved to their new home.  Stressful, yes, but very very very exciting!!!!

(Oh, and I am watching this crazy BBC show (did I mention my love of the Brits?) called "How Not To Live Your Life".  It's MENTAL.  Any other suggestions?)

Chicken Paprikash

Wowie. It's been a non-stop cook-at-home-a-thon lately.

And I have to tell you, this time of year, when it's dark at noon (or so it seems), the photos are total crap.  Please spare a little patience when you see the photos...

Last week, we had a giant chicken breast to cook.  What to do what to do?  I tend to like saucy noodle- things, and I had recently read a recipe for chicken paprikash on weightwatchers.ca that sounded good.  I had also read a recipe in the little insert in Olive magazine for beef paprikash that sounded even better, so I took matters into my own hands and combined them up and made...

Chicken Paprikash on Noodles

Chicken cut into little pieces, mixed with mushrooms, onions, red pepper and LOTS and LOTS of smoked paprika.  Really nice served over some no yolk really white looking egg noodles and sour cream.  It was small in points but delicious in flavour.

I used my new technique of frying in a little cooking spray and then, when that dries out, just adding little bits of water to keep it going.  It really works!!!  So see, you learned something from me today.

And here's another free nugget of wisdom... don't put reddish food on an orange plate in a darkish room and take a photo.  Flash, no flash, it's all crap.  But the food?  The FOOD is delish!!!

17 January 2011

Just ducky

It's not your average work day dinner that I whipped up tonight but since I didn't have the enthusiasm for it last night, I had to do tonight. Sometimes I enjoy the frenetic-everything-has-to-be-cooked-at-the-same-time madness and tonight was one of those nights. I've been having a hankering for duck for quite a few weeks and finally last week picked up a nice magret duck breast at the St. Lawrence Market. Popped it in the freezer and then took it out on Sunday with a plan to make a nice meal for both of us. That planned got a bit scuppered by events of the day, and as mentioned, my enthusiasm for the cooking had waned.

So it had to be eaten tonight, so I got to it. Pan fried duck breast in a red wine and mushroom reduction (based somewhat on this recipe). I get a kick out of making the diamond shapes in the fat of the duck breast and searing it. And then continuing the low-fat meal prep, I used the duck fat to pan fry some gnocchi, which was what J had a hankering for. They come out spectacularly. Even using the packaged ones, they were crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside. Nice!!! Along with that, we roasted some broccoli.

There were pots and pans and all manner of things flying about the kitchen. What fun! And a friggin' gourmet feast for a Monday night people!

16 January 2011

Faux Mexicana.

G is the Mexican food cook in our house.  I am the Mexican food eater.

But the other night, while packing up for the evening, a colleague mentioned a pretty easy chicken dinner recipe that I thought, this sounds perfect!  Basically, you take your boneless skinless chicken breasts and put them in a baking tray, cover with salsa, top with bread crumbs and grated cheese.  Bake and eat.

Well-ell, that sounded doable!  We had a jar of G's salsa opened that needed to be used (and was one of her less spectacular offerings), chicken breasts thawed out and ready to be cooked, and some lovely queso fresco that would make an excellent topping. Dinner was born!

While the chicken baked, I whipped up some tomatillo rice with shredded spinach mixed in, some corn sauteed with red pepper and onion, and super light salad of iceberg lettuce, onion, and avocado in a lime vinaigrette.   What a massively filling dinner for pretty low WW points+!


J here.

As I have mentioned at least a million times, I follow Weight Watchers.  As you may know, if you care about such things, the while Weight Watchers plan changed at the end of last year and it's been a bit strange for me.  I never seemed to have a difficult time following the plan, but lately, I have been.  I think part of it is just that it's different and I still have to get my brains around the fact that spending more points on breakfast, or something similar, is not such a big deal because I have more points to start with.  But it's also because things around here have been quite stressful getting ready for the move.  It's tiring and frustrating and the condo seems to be in a constant mess!  It is not conducive to getting anything accomplished in the kitchen, but it IS conducive to going up the street and chowing down at Ginger.  *Sigh*  It's never easy, is it?  But that's what life is.  Having hard parts and smooth parts and making sure it balances out in the end of it to the best that it can and you can.

Anyway, in the spirit of that, I decided to make granola.  I am on a big greek yogurt kick, and the yogurt with a bit o' granola makes for a filling breakfast.  However, granola that you buy in the store is REALLY caloric.  So for my first attempt, I used a recipe found on Everbody Likes Sandwiches, which can be found here.  It was super easy and super deluxe!  See for yourself...

Yum!!!  It's clumpy, but wayyyyy too sweet so next time, less sugar.  Also, G talked me into getting these golden raisins that taste really ass-y to me, so no more of those.  But otherwise, it's fantastic.  We turned it into 20 servings at about 2 points a serving.

We took photos of the cooking process, but they are really yellow.  I am SO hopeful that the new house will have better lighting in the kitchen so the photos of the process will be better.  But whatever, it is what it is.  I am a professional lawyer, not a professional cook or photographer so I suppose it's all okay.

Anyway, I do recommend this recipe highly!  It's really nice to have something that's made from your own kitchen with ingredients you trust.  Good luck and drop me a line if you try it.

12 January 2011

Gourmet in Aurora

It's not often that I post anything about anything that happens in Aurora. I basically work there and the food aspect of it is not particularly remarkable - in large part because I take my lunch to work most of the time. Anyway, today I had a lunch meeting and we went to the Edward Street Bistro. I didn't realize it was actually a restaurant. I'd been into the gourmet food store and knew it had a sandwich and coffee bar so was surprised that lunch ended up being more than soup and salad at a counter.

I started off with the soup of the day, an excellent seafood chowder. Iam often wary of chowders that often tend to be a little gelatinous for my taste. This was had a light broth with loads of chopped up vegetables and chunks of fish in the bottom. And it was a decent sized cup - not too much but more than enough to enjoy.

I will say that generally I would not order a hamburger at a business lunch but how could I pass up a $19 bison-kobe beef burger? I couldn't and I didn't. It came dressed with Jensen aged white cheddar, red wine onion, topped with a giant crispy onion ring and seved with a generous helping of frites. Really one of the most delicious burgers that I've ever eaten. Good stuff. If you're in the area, give it a try. It's not cheap but is probably the best food in town.

10 January 2011

Now this is how you use up turkey leftovers

We had a lot of turkey over the various holidays in Q4 of 2010 (see how all-business I've become). Each time there was a bit left over that I ensured did not go to waste. Almost all the extra meat was shredded, bagged, labelled, and put in the freezer. Carcasses, vegetables and other goodies were turned into stock that was also saved in one or two cup servings in ziploc bags and also put in the freezer. The stock has many, many, many uses!

So it had been some time since I'd rustled up some Mexican food and over the weekend, I had a hankering. Also wanting to use up some of what we had in the freezer before our move, I thought I would do something with both the shredded turkey and some stock. I really enjoy the chicken tacos with chicken tinga so thought I'd adjust a recipe from my Mexican Home Cooking course and use turkey to make some tinga. It used some of the chipotle en conserva that I made last summer, and I added some tomatoes, herbs and other jazz and voila!

So, of course, this also meant a quick trip to the market to get a few goodies like my new favourite fresh tortillas, some queso fresco, etc. etc. Put that all together and you have a totally delicious turkey taco (with a not so excellent picture to illustrate the point).

While at cooking school, we also had this fantastic soup of poblano peppers (crema de chile poblano), which I really wanted to make. It was a cold day and soup was going to warm the soul. So put that together as well - really easy and relatively fast except for the charring and cleaning of the peppers - and I used my homemade turkey stock as the base. The soup was so smooth, creamy, a slight hint of spice and just generally absolutely delicious.

Not only was the food great but we also got to use this spectacular tortilla warmer that J's family gave me. Put eight tortillas in it in the microwave for a minute and you've got steaming hot flatbreads that stay hot! Yeah.

And the other most awesome thing for those on the Weight Watchers: low points, ahoy. Four tacos, with a bit of queso fresco, some salad, a bit of crema, and a plate of soup is only about 12 points. That's a big feed for not too many of the Points Plus!

08 January 2011

Breakfast of Champions!

Yesterday had a nice twist to it.  We were out looking at housewares and we stopped at the best British Food Store in the whole province.  It's located at the Eglinton Square shopping centre, and totally rocks.  But honestly, they outdid themselves last night.  They had one of my most favourite foodstuffs in stock...

Yeah!!!  Yeah!!! Yeah!!!

We were so excited, but it was a bit late so we stocked up on provisions there including some really delicious Scottish bread and some Dubliner's cheese in order to make ourselves some extremely rocking breakfast sandwiches.

Despite our plans to get out early and go to the markets this morning, the snow had a different idea.  So leisurely breakfast was on order!

Lovely toasted bread with a perfectly fried egg, cheese, and a big ol' dollop of Baxter's tomato chutney.  And if it's up to scratch for the Queen...

... it's good enough for me.

And oh yeah, that rockin' Okie Grown mug in the background?  It's mine.  A super good Christmas present from my brother and I love using it for tea.

Good morning!!!

Livin' Large.

I love cookbooks and food magazines.

I have dozens of them.  I subscribe to a number of food magazines and I buy cookbooks when they catch my fancy.

The trouble is, I don't always have time to cook from them because there's always a steady stream of magazines and books coming in!  New Year's Resolution?  To cook from every cookbook I have, and to make at least one thing each month from each food magazine I subscribe to.  Yikes.  It sounds daunting already and none of my food subscriptions have even come in yet!

On the cookbook front, I am stoked, though!  While I was home in the great state of Oklahoma, I bought myself a new cookbook...

I read it the second I got back home and promptly ordered her second cookbook.  Lots of what she makes is familiar to me, and lots is what I imagine my life would have been like living with a more steady church goin' family in the 1950's instead of the rock awesome family that I actually lived with.  Regardless though, it's absolutely fabulous!  Cream of something in lots of the recipes and things that sound amazingly comforting.  So yeah for having this resolution BEFORE I bought this cookbook, because I am going to be kicking it southern style.  (While lightening what I can for the Weight Watchers part of me, of course!)

We are also in the process of preparing to move and it's been quite daunting.  Trying to find a mover that is reasonably priced (I mean, sheesh, we're moving across town not across the country!), reliable, and that will help us do this thing stress-free!  I'll keep you updated!

In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying the New Year as much as I am.  Happy Days!

02 January 2011

Happy New Year!!!!

Whew!  What a whirlwind this year has been!!!

I managed to keep my weight steady and maintain my Weight Watchers weight loss, I ran in two 10Ks, 2 5Ks, AND a half-marathon!  I went to Mexico City and tasted some delicious Mexican food.  I bought a house. I had a good work/life balance and some solid work achievements.  Went to TIFF and saw Keanu Reeves up close and personal.  Sang-along at Nuit Blanche. Went on a cruise of the Western Caribbean and spent a week on a beach in the Dominican.  Went to Tulsa for Xmas. What I didn't do was cook a lot of anything interesting or even, for the most part, eat out anywhere interesting.  And when I did, I didn't take photos.

If I had to do it over, I would have liked to have blogged more, taken a few more photos, and kept up with it all a bit better.  But I would be lying if I said that this year didn't have some really amazing moments.

I am amazed constantly at how much weight I have lost (just about 30 pounds, with a goal this year to lose about 8 more), how different I look, how different I feel, and that I can safely say for the first time ever that I am a runner.  I feel pretty good being me these days, and really, it's hard to write about that stuff without sounding overly smug, so I think I shied away from posting because of it.

But no longer....

So first up...

Christmas home with the fam.  YIPPIE!  Good year!

We went to El Guapo for Mexican food.  Delicious and really nice.  I absolutely loved it.  It was sensational and a really fun restaurant in downtown.  Would go back in a second.  No photos of my delicious combo plate, but get there and enjoy yourself.

For Christmas dinner, we broke with tradition COMPLETELY and had G's mom's brisket for dinner with oven roasted potatoes (as seen on Nigella), broccoli cheese that I made from scratch, green beans, dinner rolls, and roasted carrots.  Really really good.

As you can see, this was a nice looking plate of food and a really really rewarding Christmas dinner.  It was the first time in my 38 years that we had a different dinner, and nobody died.  I completely enjoyed every morsel of it.    

Also, in Tulsa, I really really like Smashburger.  I know it's a chain and all that jazz, but it's so freaking delicious.  Super good hamburgers.  

Then home to find myself back on the Weight Watchers with the brand spankin' new plan.  Have you checked this out?  It's insane. I am still finding my way around it, and keep telling myself that WW works and I will sort it out and be fine.  :)  It's all good. 

But it's HAPPY NEW YEAR'S world-round right now, and we had a GREAT New Year's Eve!  G very generously took me and her brother and his wife to a lavish dinner at Origin.  

No pics of the food, but we managed to take one of us...

Hey!  It was dark in there!!!  I am the bugs bunny toothed one to the side.  

I also took one of the amazing light fixture in the Warhol Room...

The food was amazing and we had the absolute nicest waitress in the world.  Lots of food was had including their delicious devilled eggs, bangkok beef salad, duck wrap (DRROOOOOLLLLL), black cod (sigh), manchego rice/chorizo/poached egg (deliciousness personified), and chocolate cake.  Throw in a bottle of prosecco, a jameison and ginger ale, and it was one amazingly memorable meal.  It was a good good-bye to 2010.

This year, I have a few goals lined up for myself and am going to use this blog to share the journey.  Food, running, working out with the Wii, and making delicious, healthy food to help G and I on our journey.  Plus, we move into the new house in just over a month!  Stay tuned and thanks for reading. 

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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