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Showing posts from January, 2011

A Taste of Vegas

SIN CITY  - To some, it is a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, the epitome of all that is wrong with today's society. To others, it is an adult playground,  the chance to act like a child again, free from day-to-day responsibilities. Whatever your personal opinion is, Vegas is like no other place on Earth.

My first trip to Vegas was about five years ago. We were on a road trip and thought we would stay a night or two in Vegas. Of course, I had some preconceived notions of what Vegas would be like, but when we drove up to the Strip, I was pretty much blown away by the enormity of the place. It is so over- the - top, it is ridiculous.


Vegas can be completely overwhelming, it pays to do a little researching before going.  We just returned from our seventh trip. These are a few of our favorite places:








The Bellagio Buffet: The Bellagio is a gorgeous 5 star hotel and they have one of the best buffets on the Strip. We have been to the breakfast buffet a couple of times and we are never di…

Grandma Kay's Carrot Pudding

This post is dedicated to a very special lady, my sweet Grandma Kay.

Last night, I received the sad news that my grandmother had passed away.  I last saw her on Christmas day, and I am so thankful that I got the chance to spend time with her before she passed away.

 My grandmother was an excellent baker. She would often wake up at the crack of dawn to make her famous "goofy buns " to bring to family functions. As much as I loved those, my very favorite dish that my grandmother made is Carrot Pudding. Carrot Pudding,( also called Christmas Pudding), is similar to a carrot cake in flavour, but it is put in mason jars and then steamed in a water bath. This results in a very light, moist pudding. It is also customary ( at least in our family) to serve it with a hard sauce( which is basically a vanilla icing that is so thick it is scooped like ice cream), as well as a warm lemon sauce. I always try to get a little hard sauce, a little lemon sauce and a little pudding in every bite.

Pasta alla Carbonara with Mushrooms

Pasta alla Carbonara - literally translated is"Coal Miner's Spaghetti" in Italian. Carbonara is a classic Italian dish  that is quick, relatively simple and requires only a few key ingredients; pasta, cured pork, eggs and cheese.
Timing is everything when it comes to making the perfect carbonara. Toss the hot pasta with the raw eggs and cheese, add a bit of the starchy cooking liquid and stir vigorously until a creamy sauce is achieved. This is the tricky part -  the pasta has to be as hot as possible, but removed from the heat or it will scramble the eggs. If the pasta isn't hot enough, the eggs won't be cooked and you will be left with a soupy mess. Salmonella is never a popular guest at a dinner party.

Have a hot date coming up? Pull this one out of your bag of tricks and you are going to look like a culinary rock star. Move over Mario Batali!




Pasta alla Carbonara with Mushrooms
(serves 2 -3)

3 strips center cut bacon, chopped
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
1/2 small…

Little Pots of Love ~ Beef and Mushroom Pot Pies ~

If I had to choose my all-time favorite food, pot pies would definitely be at the top of the list. Hearty, rich, beef and mushroom stew capped with flaky pastry. What could be better than that?



Beef and Mushroom Stew

vegetable oil
1 lb. stewing meat, trimmed of excess fat  and cubed
16 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups beef stock
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
a splash of Cognac or Brandy
1 or 2 bay leaves
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

prepared pie crust
1 egg beaten with a splash of milk or cream

Prepare pie crust, wrap and keep in fridge until ready to assemble. Preheat oven to 400*F. Heat a little veg oil in a large saucepan. Dry meat with a paper towel, season liberally with sea salt and coarsely ground pepper. Brown …

Carrot Parsnip Gnocchi with Tomato Spinach Ragout

Have you ever found yourself in a food rut? You always go to the same restaurants. You order the exact same thing every time. You buy the same things every time you go grocery shopping. I have read somewhere that the average person has an 8 meal rotation plan - the same 8 meals over and over. Yep, I have been there myself.  Well, now that I am a food blogger ( or flogger if you want to get all cutesy about it) I am kind of forced  out of my safe little bubble. I have tothink  outside the box, or it's going to get really  boring,  really fast.

That is what led me to come up with this little number -

 Carrot Parsnip Gnocchi
(Gnocchi recipe is loosely adapted from Closet Cooking's  Pumpkin Gnocchi)

2 cups pureed roasted carrot and parsnip ( roast carrot and parsnip in a bit of olive oil at 350 for about 1 hour - puree)
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups to 2 cups flour
grated nutmeg

In a large bowl mix together puree, egg yolk, salt and nutmeg. Add flour, mixing together until…

Fusion Pot stickers

What do you get when you combine pierogi dough with pot sticker filling? Fusion Pot stickers. The other day I somehow got the idea  in my head to make a batch of pierogi. The only trouble was,  I didn't have any potatoes on hand. Sooo, did  I  really feel like making a trip down to Safeway just to get a couple of potatoes? Heck No! Hmmmm...... how about pot stickers? Pot stickers! Ding Ding! We have a winner! I had  all the ingredients on hand and they also happen to be my all- time favorite food. There is only one problem. I have made pot stickers in the past with a homemade dough and I find it to be very difficult to work with. It is so elastic, it just bounces back when you try to roll it out. So I used pierogi dough instead. The outcome? Much easier to deal with and very, very delicious.

Pierogi Dough (This is my mother-in-law's recipe)

5 cups unbleached flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp salt
1 3/4 cups warm water
 Blend oil, water, egg and salt; add flour slowly …

Pasta with Chickpeas, Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach

OK,  the party is officially over! After a good month of chocolate, cookies, candy, cheese, and *ahem* adult beverages, my belly is now in full protest. NO MORE CHOCOLATE! I HATE YOU!  Yes, I know-  my belly can be a little brat at times.

So, with my belly in mind, I came up with this pasta dish. It is filled with all of my favorite healthy ingredients..... almonds, garlic, spinach, chickpeas,  red bell peppers. YUM! The best thing about it,  it  is so loaded with fiber, you only need a small portion to feel completely satisfied.

Pasta with Chickpeas, Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach- this makes 4-6 generous portions.

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
pinch of  crushed chili flakes
1 large roasted  red bell pepper, sliced into  thin strips
1 small can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 large bunches of fresh baby spinach, stems removed
1/4 cup chopped roasted almonds
1 16 oz. box high fiber spaghetti- I used a pasta made from  lentils and ground flax seeds, sound…