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Showing posts from 2010

Cheesy Beer Butter Bacon Soup

OK..... Let's get this party started. What could be better than the beer/butter/bacon combo? How about a little sharp cheddar cheese?. Throw in some buttery, Parmesan croutons to the mix, and you are in for a real treat.  Let's end this year with a bang!

Cheesy Beer Butter Bacon Soup - makes 4 servings

4 strips of bacon, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
3 small onions, julienned
3 small apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/3 cup butter
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 bottle amber ale
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups chicken stock
hot sauce to taste
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan, cook bacon over med-low heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add butter to pan, with onions and apples. Cook over med-low heat until onions are golden brown and very soft-about 45 minutes. Stir in flour and let cook for one minute. Add thyme, paprika, dry mustard and bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce a…

Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Cauliflower

The other day we went to a good friend's house for dinner. We had a whole fondue experience- cheese fondue, meat fondue and chocolate fondue for dessert. It was all sooo delicious, especially the cheese fondue. That is what inspired me to create this dish. The next time you have a cheese fondue, try it with roasted garlic- it is an amazing combination. I also added broccoli and cauliflower because they  are also perfectly paired with cheese sauce.

Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Cauliflower

3 cups broccoli and cauliflower florets
16 oz uncooked small pasta such as macaroni
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 heads roasted garlic, peeled
1 tsp dry mustard
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups milk
4 cups grated cheese, I think a mixture is best-Swiss, Gruyere, Parmesan, provolone etc
pinch of grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425*F. In a large pot of boiling, salted  water, blanch broccoli and cauliflower for 30 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and put in ice bat…

Balsamic- Red Wine Caramelized Onions and other Edible Gift Ideas

Balsamic-Red Wine Caramelized Onions, Bell Pepper Relish, Roasted Garlic Wine Mustard

Well, I have been a busy little bee this year, preserving everything I can get my hands on. I have made salsa,  relishes, mustard, caramelized onions and pickled beets. When I made the pickled beets the kitchen looked as though a chainsaw massacre had taken place, but they were so delicious it was worth the mess.

Preserving  conjures up images of grandmothers and church bake sales. It really is a dying art, especially among my generation. I think people are under the impression that it will be really scary and complicated, and it really isn't. That isn't to say that it isn't hard work, because it sure can be. The best part of the whole process is that you actually have something to show for all of your hard work.

Bell Pepper Relish- I made a batch of this and my husband loved it so much that we ended up making another double batch, sharing the chopping duties. It is awesome in san…

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas ~ Chewy Ginger Snap Cookies ~

I am totally having a Martha Stewart moment. As I write this, I am baking a batch of chewy gingersnap cookies. I can't even tell you how good they smell baking in the oven. I am packaging these babies up and giving them to a couple of friends as  a homemade Christmas present.

I first had these cookies at my mom's house, and I just loved them. They have a really nice, chewy texture. You will notice they contain (gasp) margarine, not butter. Now, you all know how I feel about butter. I normally would  never,ever, specify margarine in a recipe, but I think that it is the secret to the chewy texture.

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas....

Chewy Gingersnap Cookies

1 1/2 cups margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups flour
2 tsp each:
baking soda

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together margarine and sugar. Add egg and molasses. Sift in dry ingredients. Mix. Roll balls ( about one rounded tablespoon) in white sugar. Arrange on a lightly grea…

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner ~~~Roast Chicken with Candied Sweet Potatoes~~~

Yep, this one's a winner.

 Very simple, but very good.

 I roasted a chicken the other night.  I sprinkled the whole thing with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. I stuffed  whole garlic cloves, bay leaves and thyme in the cavity of  the bird.   Then, I draped a couple of slices of bacon over the breasts, to keep them nice and juicy.  * Insert dirty joke here*  I then  put the bird on a bed of sweet potatoes.

The sweet potatoes ended up  soft and sweet as candy, soaking up all of the  delicious drippings  from the chicken and bacon. I was really impressed with this one, although, I think I would make a couple of changes.   1.) I would cut the sweet potatoes in to larger chunks. I had to take these out before the chicken was cooked because I was afraid they were going to start to turn to mush.  2.)   I would only add two slices of bacon instead of three, because I found there was a little too much grease in the pan.

Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

cooking spray
1 3 1/2 to 4 lb..…

Retro Classics ~ Beef Stroganoff ~

Retro Classics.

It is funny how food goes in and out of style. Beef Stroganoff was hugely popular in the 70's and hasn't been popular since. A few years ago, I was the chef of a small restaurant, only open at lunch time. We would have a different special every day. A few times, we made Beef Stroganoff. Out of all the specials that we made, it was  hands-down the most popular special we ever had. It turns out people LOVE Beef Stroganoff. I was pretty surprised.  I know  there are a lot of Beef Stroganoff lovers out there. You know who you are.

Beef Stroganoff
(serves 4)

a couple of tablespoons butter
8 oz. tender, lean steak, sliced in 1/2 inch x 2 inch strips across the grain
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp, paprika
2 Tbsp. chopped sweet gherkins
2 Tbsp. Tomato paste
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2  cups beef stock
2 tsp. cornstarch, blend with a little of the beef stock
1 cup sour cream

hot cooked pasta, such as egg no…

Cranberry Maple Rice Pudding with Candied Pecans

When I was a kid, my Dad didn't do much cooking. He did have one specialty.....Rice Pudding. I have memories of him standing over the stove, stirring a big pot of the stuff. His version was pretty basic ... milk, rice, sugar, and vanilla, but sooo good. When the pudding was finished cooking, he would pour the whole thing in a huge yellow bowl and then we would wait.....and wait for the rice pudding to get ice-cold. Out of the five of us,  my Dad, my brother Dean and I were the only ones that liked  rice pudding.  My mom and my brother Darren wouldn't touch it if their lives depended on it. They didn't know what they were missing.

Cranberry Maple Rice Pudding
3/4 cup white rice, uncooked
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups Vanilla Almond Milk
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup dried cranberries

In a medium heavy-bottom pot stir in water, rice and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook until most of the water h…

Bacon and Potato Frittata

I made this frittata the other day for breakfast, and I liked it so much I made it for dinner the next day.  I like the fact that everything is cooked together in one pan, so clean-up is a piece of cake. I put a home-made bell pepper relish in mine, other good substitutions would be sun dried tomato pesto or basil pesto, salsa or a spicy chutney or roasted red peppers. This is also a great way to hide leftover cooked vegetables or meat, such as turkey.

Bacon and Potato Frittata
serves 4

4 slices bacon, sliced in 1/2 inch strips
1 small onion, diced
1 large russet potato, cooked and diced
8  large eggs, scrambled
1/4 cup bell pepper relish
1/2 cup grated cheese, such as Cheddar or Swiss
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350*F. Cook bacon over med-low heat in an  8 inch oven proof skillet. While bacon is cooking, add the onion. Cook until bacon is crisp and onion is softened. Remove from pan, and drain off excess grease from pan. Add potato to pan and season with  salt and pepper. Cook p…

Sesame Noodle Salad with Carrot-Sesame Vinaigrette

Well, where have you been all my life? Now THAT  is one good-looking salad, don't ya  think?

This one hits all the marks-- light yet satisfying, healthy, well balanced flavours, crunchy, fresh  and  drop-dead gorgeous, This one  just knocks it right out of the ball park.

The  pureed, cooked carrot adds a viscosity to the dressing without adding a ton of oil. It also adds a nice sweetness to it.

Try it.....I think you are going to like it.

Sesame Noodle Salad with Carrot-Sesame Vinaigrette
(This makes a mountain of salad, recipe can be cut in half.)

1 16 oz. pkg. Rice Stick noodles
1 1/2 cups shredded, cooked chicken, bones and skin removed
1 large peeled carrot, with a vegetable peeler, peel carrot into long, thin ribbons
1 rib celery, sliced very thinly on an angle
1 cup pea pods, ends and tough string removed, sliced thinly on an angle
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
4 green onions, trimmed and sliced thinly on an angle, save a bit for garnish
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopp…

Spinach and Ham topped with Poached Eggs.

I think most people fall into one of two categories: The sweet breakfast lover and the savoury breakfast lover. I definitely fall into the latter category. Which is weird, given how much I love anything sweet. I just can't deal with it first thing in the morning. This is my favorite thing to have for breakfast, I absolutely  love it!

Spinach and Ham topped with Poached Eggs

1/2 onion, finely chopped
diced ham, about 6 oz. (Canadian Bacon can be substituted, if desired)
three or four big handfuls of washed,  baby spinach, tough stems removed
salt and pepper

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
4 eggs

Fill a pan with  at least 2 -3 inches of water. Add vinegar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. The hardest part of poaching eggs is getting the water to the perfect temperature. Tiny bubbles should be coming to the surface, but you do not want a rolling boil. Break each egg into a small ramekin. Carefully add to water. Cook until the white is set and the yolk is still soft 3  to 4 1/2 minutes.…

Beef and Root Vegetable Stew

AAAAHHHHH Halloween.......... How can you not love a holiday that is all about the CANDY! I miss trick- or- treat-ing. Dressing up in a cool costume AND all the free candy you could carry! Why is there an age limit on that kind of thing?

 Well,  now I am a responsible adult. I don't eat candy for dinner.  I know that wouldn't be good for me. I eat things like this......

Beef and Root Vegetable Stew
1 lb. stewing beef, cut in to equal- size pieces and trimmed of excess fat
2 large yellow onions, julienned
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
a pinch of dried thyme, or a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
beef stock, about 4 cups
2 Tbsp.  tomato paste
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
a splash of cognac or brandy
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 small rutabaga, peeled and chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 tbsp cornstarch, mixed with cold water

In a large sauce pan, heat a small amount of canola oil over medium heat. Dry off meat wi…

Multi-grain Beer Bread with Caramelized Onions, Apple and Cheddar

A while back, I gave you a recipe for a basic beer bread. Well, today I took that recipe and played around a little bit.

WOW! This one is going to knock your socks off! Yes, it is THAT good!

I substituted some mixed whole grain cereal for some of the flour. I  slowly caramelized some onion and apple for some sweetness, and I sprinkled some cheese and whole grains on top to give it that little extratexture and depth of flavour.

Multi-grain Beer Bread with Caramelized Onions, Apple and Cheddar

2 cups flour
1 cup uncooked, mixed whole grain hot cereal ( The one I used is called Morning Glory and contains rolled oats, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, barley and rye flakes) reserve about 1 Tbsp for topping
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 large onion, julienned
1 cooking apple, cored and peeled, and diced in 1/4 inch cubes
 1 or 2 finely minced jalapeno, optional
1 cup finely grated extra sharp cheddar ( reserve a little for the top of the bread)

Shrimp Fajitas with Homemade Flour Tortillas

While browsing  through Epicurious the other day, this recipe jumped out at me. Homemade Flour Tortillas. Homemade Tortillas.....that sounds like a lot of work. After closely looking at the recipe, I realized I had all the ingredients on hand, the recipe didn't sound very time- consuming, and it received great reviews. OK, let's do it.

The Results? Good. I would say that they are worth the effort. I believe that homemade almost always trumps store bought. They don't require a lot of effort, but there is a bit. Don't make these on days when you are really rushed.

Homemade Flour Tortillas
(adapted  from Epicurious)

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup lard ( I used vegetable shortening)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup warm water

Stir together flour, with salt in a bowl, then cut in lard until mixture resembles meal. Drizzle vegetable oil over and stir in warm water with a fork until dough forms. Kneed on a lightly floured surface until smooth and pliable, about 4 minutes, dusti…

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

A few days ago, we had some good friends over for dinner. I had originally planned on making some kind of stuffed chicken breast kind of thing, but I saw these beautiful short ribs at the market and decided to go in a different direction. Wow! I am glad I did. They turned out so  tender and flavourful. I cooked them the day before I served  them, because this kind of dish always gets better on the second day, and  it is a lot easier to skim the accumulated fat off the top after it has cooled down.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Short ribs, about 4 lbs, dry with a paper towel, season all sides well with salt and pepper
vegetable oil
2 onions
2 ribs celery
2 carrots
4 tomatoes, peeled and seeded or 1 small can of tomatoes
1 whole head of garlic, separated and peeled
 a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire
Red wine, about 3/4 of the bottle
2 cups of beef stock
salt and pepper to taste

Pulse the carr…

Las Vegas: Firefly* Tapas Kitchen and Lounge

I am a huge fan of tapas...I love the small portions of bite-sized finger foods, so you can sample many different things. I had done a bit of research before leaving for Vegas and  read about Firefly* Tapas Kitchen and Lounge. It had received a lot of excellent reviews, and it is apparently hugely popular with the locals, so I knew that we had to try this place .At the time I didn't realize that there are actually two locations, the one we went to is a couple of miles off the strip,  the other is  at the end of Fremont Street, where we had been a couple of times during our stay. Had we known that, we could have saved  ourselves  about $ 20 in cab fare.

I would have to say the over-all experience was mostly very good,  We shared a pitcher of white Sangria ( only $13, as we were there for happy hour) There was a large variety of tapas on the menu, everything really sounded delicious. We had the ham and cheese croquettes,  the pork empanada, the shrimp tempura, and the filet mignon…

Las Vegas: Le Burger Brasserie

Just got back from one of my favorite places.... VEGAS!

 On our  first night we decided to head over to Le Burger Brasserie for dinner, as I had heard many good things about the place. It was all true  If you are looking for a really great burger and cheap drinks, this is the place. You have your choice of beef, salmon, turkey, chicken, lamb or vegetarian burgers, as well as different buns to choose from.
 I had a Parisian burger with brie, caramelized onions and bacon on a Parmesan cheese bun. The Parmesan cheese bun was nice and fresh, the burger was perfectly cooked and juicy, I really love the flavour of the caramelized onions and the brie, although I realized later that something was  missing .......they forgot the BACON!  Cory's burger was a bleu  cheese, avocado and bacon burger on a caramelized onion bun. I would have to say that these were some seriously good burgers.

We also shared an onion ring tower, as the burgers aren't served with any sides.. As you all probabl…

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Almonds

The Brussels Sprout never gets any love. You might think you don't like them, but I'll bet this recipe will change your mind.

about 1 1/2 cups Brussels sprouts
2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4 inch strips
pinch of sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
handful of whole almonds , toast almonds in a preheated 350f oven for 10 minutes
salt and pepper to taste

Peel off tough outer layers of sprouts.Cut off hard core at the bottom. Slice very thinly into coins. Some will stay intact and some will fall apart. In a large pan, saute bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, leaving the bacon drippings in the pan.Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add sliced sprouts to pan, add a pinch of sugar and  season with salt and pepper. Add 1-2 tsp. water to pan. Cover and cook over moderate heat until sprouts are tender, about 5 minutes. Add  bacon and roughly chopped almonds to  pan. If desired a tbsp of cider vinegar can be added to this.

Be a lover not a hater.

Tags: Brussels Spr…

Potato Gratin

Potatoes.....the ultimate comfort food. I think they are one of the most perfect foods around. Have you ever met a person who didn't like potatoes in some shape or form? Even the pickiest eater will eat potatoes. They are one of the most versatile foods I can think of. Bland on their own, they get along with everybody, absorbing all the other flavours around them. Potatoes can be crunchy or silky smooth. Steamed, fried, roasted, mashed or smashed, there are thousands of ways to cook a potato. Here is one of them.

Potato and Onion Gratin

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 lbs. red potatoes, sliced thin
1 large onion, julienned
2 1/2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk or cream
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of dried thyme
salt and pepper
2 cups  grated cheese, I use a blend of Parmesan, Mozzarella, Gruyere and Provolone,

Preheat oven to 400F. In a large non-stick pan heat olive oil over  med-low heat. Add potatoes and onion. Season liberally with salt and pepper.Cover and cook on med…

Dim Sum : Regency Palace

Let me tell you a little something about myself.....  I  looooove dim sum. I have been craving it for months, and yesterday I finally was able to fill the void that only dim sum can  fulfill.    Sunday morning , Cory and I headed on over to  Calgary's Chinatown where our old stand-by, Regency Palace resides. Interesting  fact #1--- Calgary's Chinatown is the third biggest in Canada and is celebrating their 100th  year anniversary this year.

If you have never been to Regency Palace, you will probably be amazed at how huge the place is. We arrived around 10:30 am. and there weren't many other people there. We were quickly seated, and the first dim sum cart  was immediately rolling on over to us. Our first item was some kind of shrimp balls with a sweet- soy glaze. After many attempts at trying to politely pick up one of the shrimps balls using my chopsticks, I finally had to resort to stabbing the thing with one of my chopsticks and hope that no one was looking. I have neve…

Barb's Chili Sauce

If you have an abundance of fresh tomatoes and you are looking for a great recipe, try this Chili sauce. It is absolutely amazing on burgers, meatloaf and grilled pork.

Chili Sauce
(courtesy of my mother-in-law Barb)

1 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp coarsely broken cinnamon stick
1 tsp celery seed
5 1/2 1bs. (approx. 22 medium tomatoes)
1 Tbsp chopped onion
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cayenne (more or less to taste
1 Tbsp salt

Combine first four ingredients. Bring to a boil,  then remove from heat. Let vinegar stand to absorb spices. Peel tomatoes. Combine 1/2 tomatoes, 1/2 cup sugar, onion and cayenne in a very large cooking vessel. Boil vigorously stirring constantly for 30 minutes. Add remaining tomatoes and 1/2 cup sugar. Boil vigorously for another 30 minutes. Strain vinegar mixture and add to boiling tomato mixture along with the 1 Tbsp salt. Boil another 30 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour into sterilized jars. Process jars for 15 minutes in boiling water. Store in a…

The Living Room

This past Friday, Cory and I decided to finally use a gift certificate that has been collecting dust since Christmas. Last Friday was a gorgeous summer day. We haven't seen many of them this year so you really need to take full advantage when they appear. We only live a few blocks away from The Living Room on 17 ave. so we strolled over.

The Living Room has a great outdoor patio and we were given a table right next to one of the two fireplaces. I don't think it was really putting off much heat or we would have been way too warm. Since The Living Room is known for their interactive cuisine we decided to start off with a black truffle and aged white cheddar fondue. Yum! A basket of cubed bread accompanied the fondue. Bread dipped into warm, melted cheesy goodness, with a glass of Chardonnay in hand, I was a happy girl! My only complaint was that some of the pieces of bread were cut very small and they immediately crumbled as soon at they came in contact with the fondue.

I deci…

Cheddar Jalapeno Beer Bread

I have a confession to make. I have a huge magazine addiction. Food mags, fashion mags, even trashy gossip mags, I love them all. One of my favorites is The Food Network Magazine. Every issue they have a secret ingredient contest and one of the more recent contests was ...drum roll please...... "BEER"

I ended up submitting two recipes, one for an "Apple Cheddar Beer Soup" which I will save for another time, and one for a " Cheddar Jalapeno Beer Bread"

Cheddar Jalapeno Beer Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 to 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely minced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
12 oz. lager style beer *Important- make sure beer is room temperature*
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 375*F. Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Mix in cheese, jalapeno and green onion. Slowly stir in olive oil and beer, stirring just until combine…

Childhood Memories

Have you ever noticed how certain foods can immediately send you back in time? It is amazing how powerful food memories can be. Does anyone remember those little ice cream cups with the wooden sticks. One spoonful and I am instantly 6 years old. Or taking a bite of a Creamsicle. That reminds me of running down the street, chasing after the ice cream truck. *Note* Is there anything funnier than watching kids freak out when they hear that familiar jingle?

Popcorn Twists--I haven't eaten these in years. They remind me of hot, summer days, riding my bike over to the local swimming pool. I am sure if I tried one now I would instantly feel the sun beating down on my skin and smell the chlorine in the air.

When I was young , my family used to camp in the Okanagan Valley every summer. The smell of a fresh peach will instantly send me back. In fact, whenever we are at a farmer's market I can never resist picking up a ripe peach and inhaling that sweet, peach-y, aroma. This is about …

Beer Butter Bacon

These are a few of my favorite things.

Bacon- A BLT- hold the lettuce- Salty, crisp bacon, sweet ripe tomatoes, a generous amount of mayo, a pinch of salt and LOTS of freshly ground black pepper , could there be anything more delicious? Bacon goes with practically everything... Bacon and Potatoes, Bacon and Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Shellfish, Bacon and Tomato, Bacon and Cheese, and of course, the classic combo- Bacon and Eggs. At the moment, sweet and salty bacon is hugely popular among foodies everywhere... Candied Bacon Jam, Bacon glazed with Maple Syrup, Chocolate covered Bacon, and even Bacon crusted doughnuts. It might turn some people off, but it all sounds delicious to me.

Butter- Sweet,sweet butter, we love you so. Butter makes everything better. Warm biscuits slathered with butter. Buttery shortbread cookies. What would Lobster be without butter? Pretty darn sad, I am thinking. Puff Pastry, croissants, freshly baked bread, Hollandaise Sauce, mashed potatoes ,butter cream fro…