Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall= Pumpkin Bread

Hi everyone!
I just wanted to do a really quick post tonight, since I have work to do on the job hunt front!
A few days ago I purchased a giant can of pumpkin from the grocery store (as i usually do, this isn't outside of the normal, since i usually put pumpkin in my oatmeal. nom nom...)
Anyway, later that day, I was reading The Kitchen Magpie and she had a recipe for pumpkin bread...
I had all the ingredients, so I did just that, made pumpkin bread!
You can find the whole recipe here!
Here is a slice with some almond butter on top...

Turns out I didn't have a bread pan... so I used a big cake pan. 
It worked just fine!
Lots and lots of pumpkin loaf!

I made a few minor changes: I used slightly less oil and more applesauce. It was an easy recipe and possibly one of the best pumpkin loaf recipes I've made!

Enjoy and happy fall!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Project Food Blog Challenge #2- Vote today!

Hi everyone!

Just to let you know voting is now open for the second challenge. If you are involved in project food blog or voted last time, you know what to do already!
If  you have never voted, here is what you do:
go to www.foodbuzz.com
sign up to be part of foodbuzz (no big deal, just come up with a quick username and all that stuff!)
go to the Project Food Blog section- on the left hand side you will see Challenges--> The Classics (open)
Go there and scroll in alphabetical order until you find Chomp!
Click on the heart.

You just need to do that once while voting is open (until September 30th at 6pm Pacific time) .

Voting is very important, because without votes I won't move onto the next challenge!

Thank you for reading, commenting, supporting me and voting! I appreciate it, no matter how far I go in this competition!

Leslie :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jambalaya Baby!


Wine with witty wine charms

Hi Everyone! I hope you all are having a great weekend. The sun is finally shining over here in Edmonton, something it hasn't done nearly enough of here over the last 4 months...
Anyway, its time for the second challenge of the Project Food Blog Challenge. First of all, a BIG THANK YOU to EVERYONE, near and far, old and new, that VOTED FOR ME. It was really exciting for me, you have no idea!!
After finding out I had advanced, I got right on trying to figure out what I would make for the second challenge:
How well can you tackle a classic dish from another culture? We're bypassing the French and Italian standards in favor of more challenging cuisines.


Step One: I need to pick a culture... or a dish... that isn't French or Italian. Lucky for me, my dear friend Angela gave me her cookbook "Sunday's At Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes from the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant" (I've never been and had never heard of it before now... haha!) when she moved to Vancouver. PERFECT! It took  me like 2 hours to decide on Jambalaya. There are so many interesting and yummy recipes in the book, so it was actually really hard to narrow it down.


Jambalaya!
Why Jambalaya? Well, I am sort of familiar with it, compared to a lot of the other recipes in the book, such as pumpkin soup (i was tempted since they are in season!) or Chilaquiles from Mexico. My mother has made Jambalaya for us before and I've had it at restaurants. However, this recipe was vegetarian (traditionally it has shrimp, sausage or chicken) and it also had some new challenges for me (which I will explain as I write about making the jambalaya!) 
I also love the heat and flavor (both in the food and Creole culture!) so it seemed like a fantastic choice.


Getting all the ingredients seemed easy enough- tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onion, carrots, celery and OKRA.
Yes, the okra challenge! I have never cooked with okra, but its a given when making southern food... but yes, I don't live in the south. I live in the north. But I have seen okra in stores before, so I assumed I would get it fresh or frozen no problem.... LIES!! I went to my local Save-on for all my groceries... no okra... I went to Planet Organic with Benita... no okra... I sent Ryan on a mission to his local Superstore and Sobeys.... no okra... and Benita went to her local Safeway. Still no okra. 
What is a girl to do when a recipe calls for okra and there isn't any in the city? She uses eggplant! I have no idea how this impacted the dish (probably less gooey), but it was still tasty. I'd love to make it again properly someday... but anyway, back to the food challenge!


Me and my apron- mixing roux!


Helping hands! Ryan showing us pictures of Roux.
What else was challenging about this dish? the ROUX! I had never heard of roux before (thickening agent made of oil and flour)... but now I know why people tend to avoid it. Because you have to stir oil and flour on a hot pan for like 30 minutes to thicken it up. I think it worked... it thickened up, maybe not as much as it should have? I have no idea. I was lucky to have Benita stir for awhile too, which was nice after I had been stirring for like 25 mins! 


I invited Ryan, Benita, Jeremy and Lauren over for dinner. So happy to have them over! Lauren and Benita brought wine, Jeremy brought pita and humus (happy camel!!) and Ryan brought the especially important okra substitute of eggplant! We all really liked the Jambalaya. I served it over oh so delicous brown rice, and topped it with green onions and smoked cheddar (the cheese honestly made it so great. i was surprised.) yeah yeah jambalaya!


I am really happy to have completed the second challenge for a few reasons:
First: I am not one to follow recipes much and don't usually get out of my comfort zone (who does?) so this was great. Now I know how to make roux and know that okra isn't in season right now (according to Wikianswers its in season December-March, so I'll have to look for it in the winter!)
Benita helped stir the roux so I could focus on the rest of the recipe. Thanks B!
Second: I got to spend time with friends. It was lovely and something I really needed. I feel like because I made a recipe out of Angela's cookbook, she was there with us (and we all love and miss you! Thank you for bringing me this recipe!)
Group shot! (Sorry Ryan!)


Third: I wore my apron, used my table and place mats... I never use those things enough!


Fourth: Leftovers for me while I edit my thesis like a madwoman on my Sunday afternoon.


Served over brown rice and topped with smoked cheddar and green onions.
Shiraz to drink.


For dessert: homemade apple crisp! (that isn't part of the challenge, it is just yummy! haha.)


Thanks so much for reading. I hope this makes you want some delicious Creole Jambalaya in your life (vegetarian or not!) 
Voting starts Monday, so if you like what you read/saw/imagine you smelled, then please vote!
Regardless, this has been great fun!


Cheers!
Leslie :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Playing Catch Up!

I have been pretty busy these past few days... finishing up my thesis (very minor edits left at this point that will be done over the next day or two), job searches and one interview (woo hoo!) and watching the food show Supersizers Go with Ryan... We are going to have a 70s food party FYI, prepare yourself, because it is going to be disgusting. haha
Anyway, I've also had some great food over the past few days! 

First off: Boyfriend Bruchetta Sandwiches!
Bruchetta! Make it however you like. Ryan and I are big fans of garlic, so there is a lot of that. We also enjoy some red onion for extra kick!
Sandwich: bake a chicken breast in oven at 375 with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic.
Split in half for two sandwiches.
Whole Wheat Roll toasted with a slice a mozza. Top Roll with chicken and lots of bruchetta. 

And ENJOY!

I also got a brand new Slow Cooker  Collection Cookbook from my mom the other day. Its made by Canadian Living and actually has a lot of great recipes. I made their Chickpea Ratatouille and was pleasantly surprised.


You probably noticed its not in a slow cooker. The recipe ended up being too big for my slow cooker, so i ended up cooking it on the stove. still turned out great!
In it:
Eggplant
onion
1 can tomatoes
tomato paste
2 peppers, one red and one yellow
2 zucchini
1 can chickpeas
salt
pepper
garlic
oregano
basil



Healthy and delicious!
Paired with a Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon.











Like I said, it made A LOT, so I had this again the next day and froze the rest for when I have a busy day and no time to make dinner!









Finally, inspired by the black bean chili I made the other day:

This was simple and proof you can make dinner in under 10 minutes that isn't fast food or toast!
In a pan with some cooking oil:
Mushrooms, green beans, yellow pepper, black beans, corn (fresh), salsa (about 1/3 cup), salt and pepper, spinach.
Top with cheese and some chips!
IT WAS FANTASTIC!
Hope these meals inspire you to make dinner tonight!
Thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thank you!

Thanks to everyone that has voted for my blog to go onto the second challenge of Project Food Blog! I really appreciate it and promise to keep blogging away. More so because after today (?) or tomorrow (?) or SOON (haha oh my goodness) I will be done my thesis! And will have internet again! I'm in my neighbourhood Starbucks once again! woo hoo!
Anyway, if you haven't voted yet and want to, you still have time for this round! 1 more day to vote!
If you didn't get in on this round and I make it to the next, no worries! You will be able to vote then!

Thanks again!
Back to work for me!
Leslie :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Vote now!

Hi Friends,
I am currently sitting in the Starbucks near my place, using their internet. Mine is broken and will be until at least Thursday. Not exactly perfect timing- for both my thesis and for this Project Food Blog Challenge!
Oh well! Not much I can do but drink lots of coffee! haha
So now I need all your help in order for me to advance to round 2 of the challenge. There are over 1800 bloggers and only 400 can go on. So I need you!!
This is how you vote:
You need to go to foodbuzz.com and sign up to be a member. This is the only way you can vote! Once you have done that, go to the Project Food Blog Challenge Section, and on the right hand side you will see:
CHALLENGES--> 1. Ready, Set, Blog! (Open)
Click on that and then look for Chomp! in the alphabetical list. You will see my lovely face when you scroll through the "C" section of blogs! I think you can only vote once for me, I'm not sure. Might be worth returning the next day to see if you can vote again (though I doubt it)

So friends! Tell your friends and spread the word! This is very exciting. You only have 3 days to vote, so start now!!  The next challenge involves me making a dish from another culture. And if I make it to round three I am hosting a dinner party and you know you want to be invited! haha!
Thanks to everyone, no matter how far I go. This is lots of fun and I'll be voting for my favorite blogs too!

FYI, the fine print:

Public Votes: The public may vote on their favorite Entry by logging in to the Site and voting at the Site. Must be at least 18 years old and of majority age to vote. The number of votes for the public voter per Challenge is equal to the number of Entries Sponsor will advance to the next Challenge. For example, if Sponsor announces that 48 Entries will advance to the next Challenge, the public voter is limited to 48 votes for that Challenge. Public votes are not factored in the judging criteria. The Entry with the most public votes is considered the “Reader’s Choice Winner.” The Reader’s Choice Winner automatically advances to the next Challenge. The Reader’s Choice Winner will be included in the final number of Entrants scheduled to advance to the next Challenge. There will be no Reader’s Choice Winner for Challenge #10. Sponsor recommends (but does not require) that you post an announcement on your Website at the beginning of each voting period to help drive public votes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Restaurant Reviews- Karma Indian Bistro and Original Joes

Cathy chowing down on Butter Chicken at Karma
Hi Friends!
Today I have two restaurant reviews for you: Karma Indian Bistro and Original Joes (124st location to be specific.)
I realize these are two very different restaurants, but I just wanted to let you know about my eating experiences there since I've been to both relatively recently!

Karma: First, I am embarrassed to say that this was my first visit there, even though I live very close by and have heard good things. We went there for Angela's going away party and the waiter was very accommodating and friendly (you all know how these large group dinners can go!)
Angela and Cathy
Anyway, we all ordered our own dishes and didn't really share. I am aware this isn't typically how you eat Indian food, but we had picky eaters as well as vegetarians, so it was easier just to eat your own thing. We also all started with samosas, which i really liked! I chose to have the chicken curry. It was really tasty. I know Ryan and Cathy had the Butter Chicken and liked it as well. My friend Jeremy was making "yummy eating noises" (I can only assume this meant that he was enjoying his dish!) We were all very content and full by the end. At the end, they also gave Angie a complimentary mango ice cream as a "goodbye."
Pros: Nice atmosphere, decent sized portions, fantastic wine list. Also, the take out menu is probably better than the eating in menu- it offers dinners for one or two (or more!) and are really well priced. I think Ryan and I will do that again soon! I know my friend Kierstin really likes to do that. She is the one that first recommended Karma.
Cons: They only have two whites and two red wines by the glass. Everything else is by the bottle. We all agreed that we wished they would have had some kind of samosa plate instead of individual ones, but perhaps we are being picky!
I want to return again or get take out, but I really think that Karma is a great choice if you are looking for Indian food in the downtown area (or want delivery!)
Karma is located at 10523 99 Avenue

Now onto Original Joes:
I don't really have a lot to say. I mean the place is what I consider a great restaurant/bar to go to if you want large, tasty portions and a lively (but not too loud) atmosphere. When I say you get a lot of food, I mean it. You get two sides of your choice and the burgers/sandwiches are quite large. Ryan and I had bruchetta to start. It was fantastic, especially because the bread came with melted cheese on it. I chose the veggie burger as my main- I wanted it because it had humus, guac and bruchetta on it. So excited! I got sweet potato fries and salad as my sides. I was, however, disappointed. The flavor was great, but the bruchetta made the burger soggy, which really turned me off of it. I loved the fries though... they were GONE! haha. We finished with Ryan's favorite dessert- dirt pie. Just ridiculously delicious. Not going to lie, I ate too much.
That is about all I have to say about Original Joes. I've had really consistent experiences there, and for the most part have enjoyed my meals. If you are looking for somewhere to eat with good bar food and big portions, this is where I would go!
Locations throughout Edmonton (6 in total, check website for the nearest location!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grilled Vegetable Chili

Hi Everyone!
Last week (i think it was last week anyway...) Ryan had friends over to his place for dinner. We needed to come up with a dinner that was vegetarian friendly, healthy and YUMMY! I pulled out Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book for potential ideas. Luckily we found a great recipe: Grilled Vegetable Chili. I don't have pictures because I always forget my camera when I actually need it... but here is the recipe!
(we doubled it, which was quite the undertaking because its A LOT OF VEGGIES!) I also liked this recipe because everyone at the dinner seemed to enjoy it, and so did Ryan, which is always a good thing. haha.
The recipe can be found here (or in the book): http://www.rachaelraymag.com/Recipes/rachael-ray-magazine-recipes/rachael-ray-30-minute-meals/Grilled-Vegetable-Chili
I have made the recipe with substitutions noted within:

2 zucchini, slice 1/2 inch thick
1 large red bell pepper and 1 large yellow bell pepper, halved and seeded
2 large portabella mushrooms
1 red onion, peeled and sliced 3/4 inch thick
1/2 cup EVOO
Salt and Pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 can black beans
2 tbsp chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup of beer
2 cups vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lime
handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Tortilla chips
2 cups shredded cheddar or pepper Jack cheese
2 -3 scallions, chopped

Note: we did not have beer, so we just added another cup of stock. We also did not have cilantro. I suspect these two things would have changed the flavor quite a bit, but i'm sure I would have still enjoyed it anyway!

Heat a grill to medium heat (we didn't have one so we used a pan) Brush all veggies with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes on each side/until tender. Move onto platter.
Heat the rest of the EVOO in a medium pot on medium.  Add garlic and jalapeƱos and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add beans and chop the grilled veggies into 1/2 inch pieces. Add them to the pot as you go.  Season with chili powder, paprika and salt and pepper.  Stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 mins.  Stir in beer and reduce for 30 secs, then stir in stock and simmer for a few mins.  Stir in the lime juice and cilantro.

Serve with crushed chips and cheese on top.  Garnish with scallions.
Serves 4

Enjoy!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Definition: Food Blogger

Welcome to my first official Project Food Blog Post.  The first post of this challenge is:
What defines you as a food blogger and why should you be the next food blog star?
At one of my favourite restaurants, Blue Plate Diner, eating Ranch Eggs.... DROOL!
If you have been reading my blog since its beginnings late last year or are reading it for the first time today, I think that this first challenge post is an important one regardless of whether or not I participate in the challenge. When I first started this blog, it was really a selfish endeavor-- I wanted to document my food and fitness gorls and attempts and hopefully inspire others along the way. I should probably give some brief personal history at this moment:

I am now a 23 year old Masters of History Student (hopefully for about only a week longer!) My teenage life was spent battling the bulge- some 35 pounds of it.  I lost and gained that same weight around 5 times over the course of around 6 years.  It was only in my 2nd and 3rd year of university that I lost all the weight for good.  This was through dealing with my emotional issues with food, as well as self esteem issues.  I got fit, strong, confident and healthy!  My relationship with food and fitness has evolved over the years, perhaps most notably when I slowly stopped looking at food as only calories and fuel, but also as an experience to be shared and enjoyed.  This past year while working on my Masters, along with developing what I believe to be carpal tunnel, has forced me to relax about food and fitness even more.  Shocking news to me, I ate and drank my way through my thesis these post five months and didn't gain *much* weight. (The weight isn't the point, its the perspective and the way I deal and feel about it that matters.)

Anyway... with that ramble... you now know what pushes me, where my view on food comes from (ideally a mixture of health, quality, responsibility and taste all coming together!) Indulgence is a must (no deprivation here!) but a little moderation and lots of intuition to guide me along.

I don't have much background in cooking/baking, I just know what I like and hope that others like it too! Its as simple as that! I like to post recipes of my own and from those that I find. And of course, I love posting about my favorite meals when out to dinner! Expect a little of everything!

Me and My sister in Mexico being silly.
I think the next food blog star could be anyone! I've looked at lots of different profiles and blogs and there are so many different backgrounds and perspectives from professionals to people that just simply love food, such as myself.  I think my own personal experiences with food and weight loss give me a unique edge.  I'm not here to preach or offer only low-fat recipes.  If nothing else I'm here to blog about my experiences with food and friends, while I figure out how to be a better BLOGGER, EATER and HUMAN BEING!
I hope you join me on this journey, no matter how it turns out!


Thank you all and much love!
Leslie :)

PS Please leave comments! They make me so happy and especially on such a personal post as this, I would really appreciate it from EVERYONE! I will let you all know when voting opens next week!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

Okay, fine, this recipe is not all that original... but I'm just here to remind you that zucchini is a super duper awesome veggie that you can use in all sorts of things. A particular favorite of mine are zucchini cookies, but for that very reason I'm not going to be making them! I also like these muffins because its a great way to sneak veggies into people's mouths without them knowing, or resisting anyway...
here ya go! (recipe adapted from allrecipes.com!)

Batter!

Makes 12 Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • (add 1/4 cup walnuts if you have them, i didn't, but it sure would have been yummy!)

1-In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. 

2-Combine the egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well. 

3-Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in zucchini, chocolate chips and walnuts. Fill muffin tins two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done.

Muffin goodness!
these little guys were eaten up pretty fast around here!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Vancouver Food Weekend



Hi Everyone!
Ah! I have so much to say and blog about.... Its going to take me a few days to bring you up to speed on all things food... I have a review of Karma: An Indian Bistro for you, Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe and a new Pancake recipe too!
What do you all think of my new layout? Its constantly a work in progress but I'm loving the orange. My wonderful boyfriend Ryan made the Chomp logo!! He's the best!
Anyway, I want to tell you all about my weekend in Vancouver. It was my grandparent's 60th anniversary (i know, what a feat!) so my sister and I flew down and surprised them! Besides the party, we ate-- and we ate well! We hit up a few restaurants and Grandville Island too.

On Friday for lunch we went to a place called Burgoo... and I got the grilled cheese!! I can't remember the last time I had grilled cheese so this was such a treat!

Four different kinds of cheese: Mozza, Gruyere, Emmenthal and White Cheddar on French Bread!
On the side a corn, chicken and cilantro soup!


A close up to make you drool!
This restaurant was reasonably priced at around $14 for the soup/sandwich combo.








On Saturday we decided to go to Granville Island for a few fantastic reasons. Partly because its a great place to walk around, visit and eat. Recently my friends Angie and Kevin both moved out to Vancouver and it was a great place to meet up with them too! Granville is practically foodie heaven with a great farmers market. Generally its pretty pricey, but you can find some good deals and lots of unique stuff if you hunt for it! Here's some pictures!

Fresh Pasta!
Vegetables Galore!




Grapes!










And Cakes...









And REALLY EXPENSIVE RASPBERRIES!
Think about how much you would pay for one container of those... maybe 5 bucks MAX?
These guys were 9.99 a pound... some where as high as 12.99 a pound. No thanks....






I love the way all the fruit looks piled high like that.

Yum! 
I am sad summer is coming to an end....

The upside is that it is apple season! 


Pretty flowers :)
















These flowers are bright and happy, but so is Kevin!
Kevin eating some kind of salad wrap. I've never had one, but he seemed to enjoy it as it was gone in record time!
Cathy and Cheryl getting ambushed by my camera

Bread...
I decided to get myself a yummy blueberry tart as dessert. 



Kevin and I posing with our desserts.
He got a Napoleon cake. 
I was torn between the tart and getting gelato. I love ice cream and gelato, but figure how often can I justify getting a tart?







One of my favorite couples Angie and Andrew met up with us too!!








Happy Lady Bug Cake :)

This isn't even close to all the food we ate over the weekend, but its some of the best. I'm going to post a pancake recipe my cousin made for us yesterday morning sometime this week!

Also, you'll see on the right hand side a "Vote for Me" Project Food Blog Link. Starting Next week I will be participating in a food blog challenge and I will need as many votes as possible to continue on in the challenge. Please keep this in mind and start voting for me next week! I'll keep you posted on when it starts and how often you can vote!
Happy Labour Day Everyone!!