Archive for December, 2009

Holiday Treats

December 28, 2009

The festivus of feasting seems to have slowed down…at least for now.

This Christmas, food was taken to a whole other level. It was constant, it was plentiful and it was delicious.

Here are a couple of my additions. These two appetizers were such a small piece of the overall three table spread at Adam’s family’s annual Christmas Eve party. From soup and salad to dessert squares and pie, there really was everything you would ever want in between, including great company. 

There was also the traditional Christmas Eve dinner at my brother and Candace’s new house, Christmas Day dinner at Adam’s parent’s house and an after Christmas lunch at my grandma’s house. Lets just says that my pants are getting pretty tight!!!

Prosciutto Salad Bites

  • Sliced Prosciutto
  • Mesclun Salad Greens
  • Salad Dressing of your choice

Lay the prosciutto slices vertically on a cutting board. Pick through the greens to make a salad bundle and place the bundle at the bottom of each prosciutto slice. Wrap the prosciotto slices up, with the salad in the middle. The prosciutto will stick and hold everything together. Slice the prosciutto wrapped salad in half and stand up on a plate. Before serving, drizzle on some salad dressing of your choice.

Cucumber Smoked Salmon Bites

  • Sliced Cucumber
  • Half a container of Cream Cheese
  • Handful of Dill, Chopped
  • Smoked Salmon, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix the cream cheese with the chopped dill (this is easier if the cream cheese is at room temperature). Place a tsp of the mixture on each individual cucumber slice. Place a small piece of smoked salmon on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add a toothpick to each bite, for easy eating.

Both of these appetizers can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until serving time.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Mmmeatloaf

December 22, 2009

Meatloaf is one of those meals that often gets a bad rap. I myself have been guilty of spreading the bad rumor (although, in my defense, I was probably 5 years old and just being picky)!

Even now when I think about meatloaf, I usually think about the 80s, bad TV dinners or “I’ll do anything for love” lyrics. My parents always made a good meatloaf and never fed us TV dinners, so I really don’t know where these visuals came from.

Anyways, I have managed to convert Adam to “the meatloaf fan” side and it’s now a meal that we both enjoy. 

Here’s how I make mine:

  • 1 package extra lean ground beef (you want the leanest cut possible, as the fat doesn’t get drained)
  • 1 package Onion Soup Mix (great tip from my mom!)
  • 1 ¼ cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp of your favourite bbq sauce
  • 10 drops of Worcestershire Sauce
  • ¼ water for moisture
  • Pepper to taste (no salt needed, the onion soup mix has plenty!)

Topping:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp HP Sauce

Mix all the ingredients together well (except for the topping ingredients) with your hands. Place in a loaf pan (I used two mini loaf pans…muffin tins also work well for cute little versions).

Mix the topping ingredients and coat the meatloaf generously.

Heat oven to 375 degrees and cook for 45-60 mins. I served mine with a fresh garden salad and homemade croutons (separate post to follow soon). Stay tuned!

Miss Claus

December 19, 2009

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Every year for Christmas, my girlfriends and I organize a Secret Santa gift exchange. The punch flows, the holiday music plays and the stories are shared. I am truly blessed with the best friends in the world! This year, everyone had to buy something that fit within the theme of “patterns” and each gift was so unique and really amazing. 

It was a busy week so I asked everyone to bring a little something for the buffet. Michelle and Lara brought shrimp, a cheese platter and delicious phyllo treats, Carly and Lisa brought Edamame (which we actually didn’t end up cooking because the table was too full), Tricia brought her delicious pita chips and hummus, Wesleigh  brought Prociutto wrapped asparagus (yum!), Liz and Elyse brought chips and pretzels and Ariana brought the most AMAZING homemade mini strawberry shortcakes.

I decided to “kick it oldschool” and stick with some of the easy classics. Chip dip and bruschetta…mmm.

Chip dip has been a tradition of ours since the beginning. I mean who can resist a good layer dip with nachos? Here’s how I make mine:

  • 2 containers light cream cheese
  • 4 tbsp light sour cream
  • 4 tbsp light mayo (adds a nice tang)
  • Salsa
  • Chopped bell peppers
  • Chopped green onions
  • Grated cheese

Mix the cream cheese, sour cream and mayo (I use a food processor, but a hand mixer also works well). Spread evenly on a platter. Add a layer of salsa, followed by the chopped veg. Top with grated cheese. Easy as 1…2…3.

(Someone snuck a bite before I could get the beauty shot!)

I love bruschetta. Especially when it’s made fresh, with good ingredients.

  • 6-8 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tbsp chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 3 tbsp chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and it’s ready! Serve with a fresh baguette, curstini, crackers or tortilla chips.

The spread was truly fantastic. I think we all agreed that we should have a Secret Santa every month. After all, who doesn’t like presents!

Presents!

Tea Time!

December 13, 2009

I just had the most amazing Sunday ever!

I was graciously invited to go to my good friend Carly’s 25th, girls only, birthday party. She had decorated her party room with traditional tea sets, cups and a buffet of decadent desserts. We each had a place setting, complete with a loot bag and access to a “make your own headband” craft station.  Clearly, this is every 25 year-old girl’s dream come true! Too much fun!

I offered to bring along a little appetizer. I thought about what would be a good accompaniment and I immediately decided on tea sandwiches and devilled eggs. I blame this choice on the many memories I have as a child eating this exact same thing at old Latvian functions (apparently, it was a very nostalgic type of day).

The sandwiched tasted great, but I wasn’t happy with the presentation so am not going to share them with you this time. Man… is it ever  hard making each one the same size, getting all the crusts off and getting them to stick together (it’s a lot harder than it sounds, trust me). I made three different varieties – smoked salmon with cream cheese and chives, cheese and salami and cucumber with cream cheese. I even used a brown bread layer and a white bread layer to try to add some visual appeal, but they just weren’t quite what I had envisioned. Oh well!

Devilled eggs on the other hand, are super easy. They don’t smell amazing, but do taste good.

For mine, I kept it super simple…

  • Boiled Eggs, cooled, shelled and sliced in half
  • Mayo
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Splash of White Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Chives and Paprika for garnish

Place all the yolks in a food processer and add mayo (I used about 3 tbsp for 8 eggs), 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard, 1 tbsp White Vinegar and Salt and Pepper.

Mix until smooth. Add more mayo if needed to adjust the consistency.

Scoop back into the egg white halves, or use a pastry bag (I don’t own one).  Garnish with paprika and chives.

Thanks so much for the party Carly! It was so wonderful!

Here’s a shot of my own personal creation. Carly supplied all the hairbands, ribbon, feathers etc. and everyone came up with something so amazing and so unique. I think some of the works of art could have passed for Dior.

For more pics from the party check out Carly’s very own blog : ) http://carlilah.blogspot.com/2009/12/winter-tea-party.html

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

December 6, 2009

I love Saturdays.

I’m not the biggest fan of sleeping in, but sometimes it’s completely necessary. We woke up at 2:00 (yes, as in 2:00 p.m. *gasp*), but I had been up for almost 24 hours straight and in travel recovery. There’s nothing better than being home and curled up in your own bed. Add a little homemade comfort food to that equation and life is REALLY good.

After peeling ourselves out of the house, we did a few errands and picked up some fresh groceries. Whole chickens were on sale for $2.99 at Sobeys, so I knew that a roasted chicken dinner, with all of the fixings was exactly what the doctor had ordered.

I like to roast my chicken (or turkey) on a bed of carrots, celery and onions. The veggies act like a roasting pan and elevate the meat to help make the chicken extra crisp.  It also infuses a ton of flavour into the meat. Here’s what it looks like before going into the oven:

I couldn`t wait for Christmas to have stuffing again so I whipped up a quick and easy whole grain stuffing with sage that my mom taught me when I was probably 10 years old.

To add to this delicious chicken combo, I made some classic roasted potatoes and a cucumber and tomato salad with dill. Dinner was heaven.

Sage Stuffing

  • 6 slices of whole grain bread cubed
  • Chopped celery, onion and carrots (about ½ cup each)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp dried, ground sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a pan, melt the butter and sauté the veggies for about 3 minutes to soften them a bit. Add the bread, sage, salt and pepper and toss together. That`s it, you`re done. It`s delicious I promise!

Stuff the chicken.

I like to season my chicken with a little melted butter, paprika, salt, pepper and dried garlic. I roasted my chicken in a 375 degree oven for about an hour and a half. I`m not very good at timing things, I just like to keep an eye on them until it looks ready. Maybe a meat thermometer would be a good investment.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

  • Quarter as many potatoes as you like
  • Drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil and a little melted butter (helps with browning)
  • Sprinkle on salt, pepper, rosemary, paprika and a bit of onion soup mix (sounds weird, but does add a great flavour)
  • Spread, in a single layer on a baking sheet and place them in the oven with the chicken
  • Cook for 1 hour

Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Dill

  • Chop up some cucumber, tomato and dill
  • Whisk 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar with 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and a drizzle of honey for sweetness
  • Toss everything together (you may not need to use all of the dressing, but it keeps in the fridge for a few days)

Dinner is served!

Coast to Coast

December 5, 2009

Time to confess.  It`s been quite some time since my last post…

This past week I have been busy on the road doing a little travelling with work. I spent a few days in Vancouver and a couple days in Halifax. Having the chance to see two Oceans in one week was pretty surreal. Having the chance to taste a bit of the local fare was amazingly satisfying.

Vancouver is a beautiful city that I hope to visit again soon. The only place that I really wanted to get to was Vij’s. I’ve seen Food Network specials about Vikram and Meeru and heard only the best reviews about their cuisine from top sources like Food and Wine magazine and the New York Times. Being one of the top Indian restaurants in the world, I knew we couldn’t go wrong. My colleague and I shared Mutton Kebabs with Bengali Style Curry, Garam Masala Portobello Mushrooms in Porcini Cream Curry and Roasted Eggplant with Chick Peas in Curry. Each dish was like a spice explosion for your taste buds and so delicious. The naan that it came with just melted in your mouth.

Unfortunately, being the amateur blogger that I am…I forgot to snap a few shots of the food (sorry!). Do be sure to check out Vij`s website for inspiration and recipes and make the stop at this restaurant to experience one of the best culinary wonders of the world!  http://www.vijs.ca

In Halifax, my only goal was to eat some fresh seafood. I LOVE seafood, but don`t get the opportunity to make it often at home. I was fortunate enough to have some extra time to meet up with my cousin who treated me to a great East Coast dinner. I even had the opportunity to taste my very first oyster (at least I think it was my first, I can`t recall another time that I had tried one). It was delicious! We also shared some “Jump up Calamari“ that had a nice spicy flavour, followed by lobster heaven. 

This time around I made a mental note to snap some shots of the seafood feast (and even got the camera out on the table), but was so excited to try everything that I only caught some of the aftermath. Thanks for the great dinner and company Pels and Scotty! Hopefully see you guys again soon!

My first lesson about sharing food that I eat “out“ is to TAKE MORE PICTURES! The lobster shot is pretty bad, but sure tasted good!