Monthly Archives: February 2013

The world’s worst blogger.

Remember the time I swore up and down that I wouldn’t fall off the blogwagon after a handful of posts like I always do?!

Ahh. Memories.

I know. I’m the worst. Things have been super crazy nutso around here, and by the time I get home from work the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer. But that’s no excuse! I’ve still been eating, drinking and living well. And take photos of (almost!) every meal. So, I’ve got lots to share..and I will be back soon!

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Saturday snapshots

I have to admit how lucky I am that Alex loves to cook and bake just as much as I do. This week he made Thai coconut curry chicken and chocolate-bottom berry tarts!

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He makes pie pastry from scratch and it is mouthwatering! Flaky, buttery and strong enough to house a delectable chocolate berry filling that was the perfect combination of sweet and tart. Yum.

Alex was on nights this week, and I have to admit that as much as I love to cook, I can’t be bothered to make a meal just for myself. One of my favourite things to do on a night when he’s away is roast an entire head of garlic, warm up some goat cheese and make pita chips for a yummy appetizer. It’s easy and pleasy!
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Let me know if you want me to post about how I do this. It’s a great appetizer for a girls’ night, or a night when your husband is away and you don’t have to worry about having garlicky breath. πŸ˜‰

We were hit by snowstorm Nemo (anyone know why they called it that?) yesterday. I made it to work but the drive wasn’t very nice. Today, however, is much nicer! The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the temps were mild – a perfect day to take Stella, our goldendoodle, to the park to play in the snow!

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We brought a ball for her to play with, and it was hilarious watching her chase it and dig it out from the foot of snow covering the baseball diamond.

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I swear it’s in here somewhere...

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Maybe if I stick my butt in the air a little higher I’ll find it…

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Needless to say, she was pooped after running around for a while. We came home to our house smelling like one of my favourite scents – homemade tomato sauce and meatballs simmering on the stove for a delicious lunch of meatball subs (check out my meatball recipe here!).

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This was Alex’s, topped with jalapeΓ±os..blegh!
We all promptly hit the couch for a nap shortly after. A perfect Saturday! πŸ™‚

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Super Bowl eats, part 2

Like I mentioned in my last post, we had some friends over to watch the Beyonce concert Super Bowl on Sunday night. Chili and baked potatoes are the perfect winter comfort foods, and are pretty low-maintenance when you’re feeding a crowd that includes hungry, burly, football-watching men. πŸ™‚

I love trying new recipes, but I’m always skeptical of trying new things when I have to bring something somewhere, or feed company. Case in point: I made a brownie fruit pizza for my friend Melissa’s baby shower on Sunday, and it was an epic fail, presentation-wise. A brownie crust topped with a cream-cheese frosting and fresh berries – seems pretty foolproof, right? Well, it tasted great, but I think it sat on top of a hot stove for a few minutes before it was served, which caused it to melt. 😦 Look how nice it looked before I brought it to the hall!

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Oh well – we still munched on it afterwards, and although it was a gooey mess, it was still delicious!

Anyway, all that said, chili in a Crock Pot is pretty hard to screw up, but I wanted to stick with a pretty basic recipe. However, I have heard (and read) several times that a certain unexpected ingredient adds a great kick to chili – chocolate! I was excited when I found this recipe and picked up everything I needed from the short list of ingredients at the grocery store.

I started the chili on Sunday morning by browning two pounds of ground beef (from Jepson’s Fresh Meats, of course!) with two chopped onions and four cloves of garlic, diced into small pieces.

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When the meat was nicely browned and caramelized, I added the mixture to the Crock Pot along with two 28-ounce cans of diced tomatoes . . . DSC_0512

. . . an 18-ounce can of mixed beans . . .

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. . . four additional minced garlic cloves and some spices: three tablespoons of chili powder, a tablespoon of cumin, a teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

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And the two ingredients that made the chili stand out – a teaspoon of hot pepper sauce . . .


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And two tablespoons of chopped baking chocolate. Yum!

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Give the ingredients a good stir, set the temperature to low and let it simmer away for seven to eight hours!

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I have to admit – I’m not a huge chili fan. I already told you about how much I hate tomatoes, and let’s face it – tomatoes are a main component of chili! But this recipe was pretty delicious, and I enjoyed it topped over a hot baked potato. πŸ™‚ The rest of our guests seemed to like it too – I was counting on having leftovers for lunch, but it disappeared! Not that I’m complaining – I think the biggest compliment to any chef is having empty plates and serving dishes!

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Alex’s bowl – a blurry picture, since he grabbed the bowl right away to gobble it down!

On to the baked potatoes: no real recipe here, just a bunch of baked potatoes scrubbed and poked, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and baked at 400 F for about an hour and a half, or until done. I made a whole bunch and baked them in recyclable aluminum trays covered with tin foil for easy cleanup. Serve the potatoes alongside chili with tons of toppings on the side . . .
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Sour cream, jalapeno peppers, green onion, bacon bits, broccoli, cheese and salsa . . .

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And check out these adorable chocolate-covered strawberries my sweet friend Audrey made! Not a chili topping, but a delicious dessert! πŸ™‚ We also munched on bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, buffalo chicken wing dip, meatballs and nachos. It was a feast, I tell ya, and the perfect Super Bowl (or any!) Sunday meal. I’m still full!

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Super Bowl eats, part 1

Happy Bachelor night Monday. πŸ™‚

I’ll admit it – the Bachelor is totally my guilty pleasure (alright, admittedly I have more than one guilty pleasure show..this is one of the Monday-night shows!!). Alex plays hockey on Monday nights, so I’m able to watch it myself without any manly complaints ;).

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m still full from the weekend. Last year we decided to have friends over to watch the Super Bowl – actually, I think our friends invited themselves, because our living room is fairly spacious! πŸ˜‰ Last year I cooked up a huge Crock Pot full of chili and probably close to two dozen baked potatoes and spread out a ton of toppings, and we feasted! It was so fun – the guys watched the game, while the girls gabbed and munched on great food before and after the halftime show. We decided to do it again this year, and since last year’s table was such a hit, I went with the same game plan this year.

This Sunday was even busier than normal, because besides preparing all of our goodies for the evening, we celebrated my great friend Melissa and her sweet baby girl Kennedy with a baby shower! It was a fantastic afternoon, and of course, like any baby shower, we munched on delicious dips, appetizers, sweets and cake all afternoon! None of us expected to be hungry later on, but somehow we managed to slurp the last of the chili down later that night (although I’m sure the boys had something to do with that, too!) ;).

Since Sunday was going to be a busy day, I tried to do most of the prep work Saturday, which made things a lot easier! I knew the chili could be started Sunday morning before I had to leave for the shower and the baked potatoes and toppings could wait until I got home, but I did everything else I could on Saturday, including starting this mouthwatering appetizer – bacon-wrapped water chestnuts!

Savoury, salty bacon is wrapped around a crunchy water chestnut and baked in a spicy-sweet sauce, resulting in an irresistible, perfectly poppable bite.

This recipe is a surefire crowdpleaser, and it’s seriously so simple – my mom has been making it for a few years, and I’ve memorized it – there are only a handful of ingredients!

Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts

1 package of bacon

2 cans of whole water chestnuts

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup chili sauce

Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 F and cutting your bacon in half. Wrap each half-slice of bacon around a whole water chestnut, secure with a toothpick and pop ’em into an oven-safe dish.

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Simple, right?! I bought sliced water chestnuts by mistake, but they worked fine – I stacked two or three slices together to maximize the crunch factor.

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Meanwhile, combine the mayo, brown sugar and chili sauce into a sweet and tangy sauce and pour over the water chestnuts. If you’re preparing these a day ahead of your event, leave the sauce on the side until you’re ready to bake and store everything in the fridge. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes and watch them disappear shortly after you pull them out!

Seriously, these babies were such a hit that I didn’t even have a chance to take a picture of the finish product. I was smart and divided the recipe into two dishes so the boys had their own and didn’t steal from ours! πŸ˜‰ Everyone loved them, even this guy! DSC_0614

OK, so Travis doesn’t actually have teeth (and they are probably a little too advanced for a seven-month-old with no teeth to eat!!), but he’s so darn cute, and his parents both loved them, so I’m sure he will too someday. πŸ™‚

Alright, back to the Bachelor. That Tierra is something else . . . !!! Not gonna lie, I’m super excited for a double dose of the drama this week!

Stay tuned for the second dose of my Super Bowl feastivities. Get it? Feast-ivities . . . ha. Wow.

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Blog fail, dinner win

It’s been eight days and I’ve only blogged about dinner ONCE! And only three entries total. Major fail. Or, as the Kardashians would say, just maj.
(Edited to add: ew, did I really say that?)

In hopes of redeeming myself (and my language), I cooked up a delicious meal of my favourite comfort food, spaghetti and meatballs. It’s too easy – and delicious – for words. So much so that Alex and I ate in silence for probably five minutes while we inhaled. Nom.

I shared our sauce-making secrets (well, there’s really no secret – just a whole lotta love and passion!) last week. Pasta and sauce is truly mouthwatering on its own, but a girl’s gotta please her hubs and throw in a little meat here and there. Lucky for me, I’ve got a connection in that department. <shamlessplug> If you’re in the Hamilton, Ont. area, check out my stepdad and stepbrother’s stall at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market – Jepson’s Fresh Meats. Delicious beef and pork, and great guys to boot ;). Tell ’em I sent you! </shamelessplug>

Anyway. These little balls of meat are made from fresh ground beef and the addition of a few essentials. A pinch each of garlic salt, pepper, oregano, basil, fresh-grated parm and sweet red pepper flakes (which I forgot to photograph), plus an egg and about a quarter cup of breadcrumbs – enough to make sure the meatballs hold together. DSC_0460

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Mix ’em all together and roll into perfect-sized little meatballs. Pop them on a cookie sheet and into the oven to broil for about 7 minutes, until they start to turn brown and caramelize. Yum.

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Meanwhile, start the liquid gold – err, I mean sauce. For the least Italian person ever, Alex is super appreciative of the culture and food . . . so much so that he found it absurd that my grandparents wanted to order KFC the last time we were there for dinner. Hey, us foreigners love the colonel too! πŸ˜‰ He also KNOWS not to get between me and these jars. Don’t you dare rinse it out until I’ve salvaged every last drop from the jar. This stuff is too precious to waste!

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To the pot of sauce, I add a halved onion, a couple of cloves of garlic and spices to taste. (Note: these aren’t necessary if you’re using store-bought sauce, as they have their own flavours.) The onion wilts down and Alex eats it with the pasta – almost his favourite part. I added most of the same spices that I added to the meatballs – oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, S&P. I actually prefer the sauce plain with no added spices, but I’m learning to adapt. When the meatballs are nice and brown, add them into the sauce and cover to let them simmer away with the sauce. All those flavours permeating each bite of meatball . . . I’m almost salivating again.
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Meantime, boil a pot of generously salted water. Don’t skip this step – the salt cooks right into the pasta and adds so much flavour to it. Tonight we had spaghettini – not as thick as spaghetti, and not as thin as angel hair – juuuuust perfect. When your pasta is ready, drain it and serve, topped with more freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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Can I just say . . . drool. Trust me, this plate is totally worth skipping dessert for. It would have been even better served with a hunk of crusty bread, but I forgot to stop and pick a loaf up after work, and let’s face it – there are more than enough carbs in this dish.

Well, I’m off for my Friday night post-pasta nap! I’ve got lots more exciting things on the menu for this weekend, including delicious appetizers, a decadent dessert and the perfect Super Bowl Sunday dinner. Have a great night!

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