Saturday, April 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

My mother's birthday was this past week! We celebrated with a small get together and had dinner and dessert!

My sister and I decided my mother deserved a treat!

We decided to get her a nice bottle of wine and a cake from Duchess Bake Shop.
 Wine from deVine Wines-
This was a Cot (a Malbec) wine from Chile.

 Time to celebrate!

 From Duchess Bake Shop- The Duke Cake ($40)
Chocolate cake with salted caramel and chocolate ganache. 


Hope you had a wonderful birthday!
Cheers to you! 
Love you!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Culina Mill Creek

This month food-loving friends decided our destination would be Culina Mill Creek!
I had never been to any of the Culina restaurants. I loved the small and intimate interior.

The Food: 

 Duck Hot Dogs (or what I would rather call Hot Ducks!)
These were okay. I don't really understand the appeal. A hot dog is a hot dog- I wouldn't mess with that. These were dry and didn't really have much flavor.

Persian Platter- humus, artichokes, cheese, and flatbread.
Apparently the artichokes were delicious!

 Moroccan Vegetable Tangine-
I had a bite of this and it was lovely. Full of flavor. Very Comforting. 
 Chorizo Sauage with chickpeas, tomato and garlic with cornbread.

Chophouse Salad- tomatoes, spinach, blue cheese, chickpeas, onions and Alberta Beef.

I ordered this lovely dish!
Phyllo Wrapped Alberta Goat Cheese-
the base is chana dahl, tomato chutney and mushrooms.
The cheese was soooo creamy and was in perfect contrast to the spiciness of the tomato base.

 Three people ordered this dish- 
Alberta Beef with blue cheese and chocolate sauce on "dirty mashed potatoes."
I don't know what makes the potatoes dirty, but this sinful dish was a hit!

Finally, Pork Tenderloin Steaks on a bed of couscous with spicy chimmichurri sauce. This plate was practically licked clean!

Our visit to Culina Mill Creek was lovely. Our server was attentive and knowledgeable. Our portions were quite large- many of the dishes were taken home at the end of the night (yay for leftovers!)  I like the balance of vegetarian and meat options. And of course, Culina supports local produce, products and businesses!
I can't wait to visit the rest of the Culina family restaurants!

(My meal with wine, main course and tea- $45.00)

Culina Mill Creek on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 22, 2011

Turkey Taco Time!

Last week we made Turkey Tacos!! 
They were delicious and very healthy!
See for yourself!

The filling!

 The Toppings!

The Recipe:
Note: This makes a lot of filling. We had 12 tacos and still had leftovers. All of our tacos were STUFFED FULL and overflowing.

1 pkg of ground turkey (or chicken)- around 1 pound
4 cloves garlic- minced
Olive oil (2 tbsp)
1 large or 2 small onions
28 oz can of whole tomatoes (drain some liquid out!)
17oz can black beans
1/4 cup chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
taco shells (we got the soft shells!)

In a sauce pan, heat up olive oil and cook up garlic and onion. When soft, add turkey and break it up as it cooks. Once cooked and brown, add tomatoes and break them  up into chunks. Add chili powder, salt and pepper and black beans. Bring to boil and then simmer until the liquid cooks down.

We topped our tacos with salsa, homemade guacamole, cheddar cheese and lettuce!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Frittata Frittata!

 So the other night I was hungry. I also had a lot of potatoes and over two dozen eggs... What did that mean?


 Here is MY recipe 
(I honestly doubt that this isn't already out there in some capacity. Frittatas are super easy to make and versatile.)
2 tbsp olive oil
6 medium potatoes
1 pepper
1 cup mushrooms
4 slices (turkey) bacon
4 eggs
1/2 cup egg whites
cayenne pepper
oregano (taste)
basil (taste)
salt and pepper
1 cup sliced tomatoes
1 cup spinach
1/2-1 cup cheddar cheese

In a large pan heat up some olive oil. Turn oven onto broil.
Start cooking up your potatoes and bacon on two sides of the pan. Once mostly cooked, add veggies and cook. Salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and spinach.
In a bowl, mix eggs, egg whites, cayenne, oregano, basil and salt and pepper. Pour over your potato and veggie mixture. Set stove to medium and let cook. Do not touch the egg mixture. Once eggs are mostly cooked, top with cheese.
Put in oven for 5-10 minutes. 
Take out of oven and let cool and sit for about 10 minutes.
Serves 4 (or 2 dinners, 2 lunches!)

I'll be honest, I had mine with a side of ketchup!!
I'm frittata obsessed lately. I made another one only a few days later. I want to make one with feta and spinach next. Can't get enough. So easy and delicious!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Famoso Pizza's Summer Flavours!

Note: I wrote a whole blog post, was 99% done and then the blue screen of death appeared on my laptop (eeek!) So appreciate this post more then usual since it took me over double the amount of time to write!

Last week we went to Famoso Pizza on Jasper Ave. Waited about 15 minutes to get in and got a booth (woot!) I was super excited and craving a pizza I had a few months ago with garlic, brussel sprouts and dates... I was sad to see it wasn't on the menu. They have their new Spring/Summer Menu. This, however, was just another opportunity to try something new!

My sister and I both got this guy!
 San Andreas Pizza
Oregano, Olive Oil and Garlic Base, with chili-lime chicken and mozza. Topped with fresh avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, cream and lime. Uhhh yeah: CREAM! So good so good! 

Ryan surprised me and got the Sweet BBQ Chicken Pizza- normally he sticks to the Margherita Pizza. He really liked it! Yay!

We all ate about 2/3 of our pizzas and made sure to save the rest for lunch the next day. We did have room for dessert though!

 Famoso also has new Gelato Flavours. After a few samples, I decided on the Pistachio Lime Gelato.

Cathy got the Chocolate Coffee Gelato!
Ryan got the small Nutella Pizza. It really isn't small at all... He was nice enough to share a few bites with Cathy and I. He took a piece home with him. 

Happy Eaters!

My Meal Cost:
Pizza: 14.50
Gelato: 3.50
18.00 plus GST and tip!

Have you been to Famoso Pizza? Tried their new menu or do you have a favorite you get every time?? If you have never been, I recommend it! Plus, they have a great dinner and a movie deal if you want to make it a date night! 
Happy eating and enjoy the nice weather!

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria (Downtown) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Baba Ganoush-Hummus Pasta and Eggplant Caviar

Last Sunday night I pulled out my copy of Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book and made her Baba Ganoush-Hummus Pasta!

 My sister and I both really enjoyed this and it fed us for about 3 meals each! 
Not only is this healthy (and delicious) its also pretty inexpensive!  I think the most expensive thing were the pine nuts I got from bulk barn! She asks for tahini paste- however, the only jar I could find at Save-On was over $8.00... I decided I would substitute sunflower seed butter instead. It worked just fine. I'm sure it changed the taste of the sauce, but it wasn't a bad change! One day I won't cheap out, but I need to make sure I'll actually use the tahini before I purchase a GIANT jar! 

Anyway, check out the recipe here and enjoy! I think its a great alternative to the usual meat sauces we are so accustomed to. Plus, with summer around the corner, getting things like eggplant from the farmer's market (like I did- got mine from the City Market!) will make it even better!

Speaking of Eggplant, here is a great recipe for Eggplant Caviar my friend Kierstin gave me. She got it from some fantastic cookbook that isn't in print anymore. That cookbook is a gem! We ate the caviar in record time...
(sorry no pictures, but trust me, this is worth the effort!)

Eggplant Caviar:

1 large eggplant (about 18 oz)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped capers (drained and rinsed first)
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
Pinch sugar

Pita Crisps:

4 greek-style pitas
1 tbsp olive oil
paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 F
2. Place eggplant on a baking sheet and pierce several times with a fork.  Bake until soft and skin is cracked and wrinkled, about 45 min.  Let cool to the point that you can touch it without crying out in pain, then cut in half lengthwise.  Peel off skin, place skinned eggplant in colander and let drain for 45 min.  Finely chop eggplant.
3. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and garlic in a medium bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in eggplant, then toss in capers, parsley, basil and a pinch of sugar if eggplant tastes slightly bitter.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
4. Brush each pita with olive oil.  Sprinkle with paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper, then cut each pita into eight wedges.  Spread out evenly on baking sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until browned.

Do you like eggplant? How do you usually cook eggplant? Usually I grill pieces of it up, but these recipes are so much more fun!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Budgeting and Prioritizing

What do you love? What makes you happy? What can you do without?

These are questions I have been asking myself lately.  I have been looking into my budget and where I stand in paying back my $13,000 in loans, while trying to save money but also living life to the fullest. I crunched some numbers and I did so more critically than I ever had before. 

I love eating out and enjoying good company. A nice glass of wine and dessert! I love going to the market and buying fresh and local products and produce. I love to make new recipes at home and having people over for dinner. Edmonton has such a fantastic food scene that I am so proud to promote.
I also take two dance classes and have a gym membership. I am in the process in investing in a good bike. I have also taken a few Bikram yoga classes with my mom and really love the way it makes me feel. 

That being said, I do need to "put myself first" financially. 

What does this mean? This means setting a stricter budget and not indulging in the ways that I have. Because if I overindulge in one place, I lose out in something else I enjoy. I don't want to give up my second dance class, or my monthly dinner with my foodie friends. And I won't- I just need to be smarter about it!

My monthly eating out budget will now be $100. No exceptions. In the past month, my eating out budget has been all over the place. One month it was$ 30 bucks, another it was almost $200. And while I can pretend it evens out, it doesn't allow for me to save every month.

I am going to start not only documenting what I eat, but how much it cost me- whether its at a restaurant or an at home recipe.  Its so easy to get caught up in the experience and your ideals (eating local and organic) but if I don't make sure I am financially secure, what does it matter? 

I am still going to eat foods I enjoy- make no mistake about it. This leads into a principle I have been trying with my relationship with food: You can have it all, just not all at once. So that is what I am going to do- have it all, but not all at once. 

I hope that through this experience, I can present a unique and realistic perspective on how you can live enjoying foods you love, making new and interesting foods and experiencing life to the fullest. I will always put  my social experiences above food.  For example, I would cut eating out at restaurants before I would ever give up dance. But I think that with some more strategic planning, a little bit more home cooking, and being aware of what I really want versus what I think I want, will allow me to maintain everything I love about my life.