07 September 2011

general observations from cooking at home

like most people who cook, i'm easily classifed as one of those people who's so insanely self-sufficient in the kitchen doing everything from the prep work to the cooking that sharing the kitchen is often the last thing on my mind! yet, it turns out i CAN share the kitchen with others, but i've learned over the last nearly SIX years that my favourite person to share the kitchen with is my former classmate/lab parter and army chef, who also happens to be my boyfriend. it's such a delightful pleasure helping him out and often, we move in such a co-ordinated manner, you'd think we had choreographed it..but no...we're used to sharing workspace with each other. im already looking forward to making either Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner with him.
-17 August. 2011

i love weekends...they're often the time i use to create dishes that are usually a slight variation of something i've made in the past. this weekend: diced pork loin chops marinated w/ soy sauce & brown sugar, with pasta, green bell peppers, haricots verts (green beans!) and zucchini. i also found that baby arugula with 3/4 tbsp of italian salad dressing makes for a ridiculously good appetizer.
-21 August, 2011

arugula & strawberries..

what a fabulous combination! i made a little appetizer with some baby arugula and sliced strawberries and found that the sweetness of the strawberries offsets the pungency of the baby arugula. no
August 23, 2011

13 July 2011

Milestones + Date Night Menu = well worth it

To sum it all up, this was one of the best date nights that I've had the opportunity to share with my bf and celebrate his birthday, since it was his last leave for the next couple of months.
As it turns out, this date night/celebration just happened to fall on a Wednesday--THE day of the week when the date night menu happens to be available for use!

We started with the Honey Phyllo Shrimp: 6 pieces of perfectly fried shrimp with a sweet & slightly spicy honey-chipotle dipping sauce.

For our respectively selected main courses, I chose the Mediterranean Chicken filled with goat cheese and served with bok choy, chickpeas, grape tomatoes & pomegranate molasses. Perfectly seasoned, but it was a borderline dry in my mind. The bok choy, tomatoes & chickpeas managed to make up for the slightly dry chicken and bring the whole dish all together.

And for him you ask? Sirloin steak, grilled to a perfect rare, served with mashed potatoes & asparagus. Can't say what I thought of his dish as he managed to eat everything (and I prefer my steak medium rare).

For dessert, I let him pick this one: THE COOKIE:
a massive, freshly baked cookie that's still soft when served, topped with caramel & chocolate sauces and a scoop of vanilla gelato. No lie--not only did we share it, we finished it all.

Suffice to say that this is definitely well worth it to pay nearly $60 after tax & tip for a great meal, lots of laughs, and a very big smile.

06 June 2011

Eggsmart: light & substantial!

For one who's not much of a breakfast eater, I found myself at Eggsmart with a great friend of mine before we went downtown for a girl's day out before settling down to watch some baseball & hockey.

With the need for something light, but incredibly substantial, I spotted the bagel with cream cheese & smoked salmon and wondered if that would help me find that happy medium--especially since I had just obtained my morning coffee fix a few hours prior! Sure enough, it worked.

Full to the brim with just the right amount of carbs, dairy, fruit & protein (it DOES come with a sliced orange for garnish!), I found myself with almost no need to eat again until close to 7pm!

Suffice to say, it was the right choice--and for $6.99, I'd have to say that it was well worth it!

10 May 2011

crockpot braised ribs

another recipe i love to make in my own kitchen!

bay leaves, fresh (4-6, torn in half)
1/2 large onion, chopped
3-4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
4 medium potatoes, quartered
1.5-2 lbs of spareribs in 1" pieces

in a bowl, marinate ribs with:
soy sauce (OR 2-3 tsp salt--i use soy sauce instead)
cracked pepper
prepared, minced garlic
1 tsp honey

coat ribs evenly with marinade.

in crockpot, combine all ingredients (along with any spare marinade).
add just enough liquid to cover (any liquid of choice: water, stock or a combination)
set crockpot for 4-6 hours.

serve with rice, toasted pita bread or pasta.

08 May 2011

linguine with butternut squash & double smoked bacon

this is actually something i just made at home earlier tonight.

you need:

fresh, whole wheat linguine (dried works too)
1 pkg of double smoked bacon
pre-cut butternut squash


cut the butternut squash into 1 inch pieces.
remove rind from bacon, slice and cube into 3/4 inch pieces

preheat your stove to a medium-high heat.
add bacon and give it a 2-minute head start.
add squash. saute everything together for about 5-8 minutes.

season with a bit of pepper (the bacon is naturally salty, so don't add salt!)
add about 1/4 cup of water to the saute pan. turn heat down to low and allow everything to simmer for another 5-8 minutes more so that the squash will be tender.

for the pasta:
cook pasta according to directions if using dried.
IF using fresh pasta, cook near the end of the process

drain pasta and add to squash and bacon.

01 May 2011

kelsey's shepherd's pie: nothing like homemade!

i have to say: i've come to really appreciate the taste of homemade food (especially because i spend a lot of time cooking in my own kitchen at home). the shepherd's pie from kelsey's at warden-eglinton just happened to hit the sweet spot for me last night after a long day doing a CPR course with my bff.

a perfectly tender filling of ground beef, carrots, corn & peas, topped with mashed potatoes along with a side of steamed veggies and gravy was a brilliantly put together combination of flavours and textures. i also have to say that this happened to be a perfect portion, as it was in one of the white, ceramic boats that's often used for dishes such as mac & cheese etc.

now, me being the immensely hungry person i was, i pretty much managed to demolish everything along with a nice, warm cup of coffee. seeing me clean a plate when i go out is rare, but heck--$11.99 for the pie & veggies and then $2.29 for the coffee giving me a total bill of just over $16 after taxes was quite reasonable.

so, if you were to ask me if it goes in the books under the category of best thing i ever ate, the answer is YES!

till next time,

13 March 2011

Ichiban: it lives up to the name.

Ichiban: literally meaning NUMBER ONE, it lives up to its name. Whether I'm at the Leslie & 16th Avenue, at the one on Empress Walk or even the smaller one just around Yonge-Sheppard it doesn't really matter. Ichiban remains my favourite place in the GTA for good sushi, sashimi and rolls.
Perhaps it's a taste thing for me because I really adore the balanced salad dressing, or maybe it's because their bento boxes are just flat out incredible! Selection is always in abundance and I never have an issue with returning to delicious favourites like Unagi-Don (steamed rice with eel) or a good California Roll...not to mention I love the small, 1 ounce scoop of green tea ice cream that comes with the meal!

With every main in a reasonable price range, there's no reason to say
that I wouldn't go back time and again. While I have been to Ichiban many times, this is the first chance i've had to write about the experience.

05 March 2011

KFC snack wrap: sauce overload much?

I was out at vaughn mills today and it just so happened to be the case my mom decided to have the KFC snack wrap at around 4:30pm. At $2.19 each, it's a bigger portion of chicken in comparison to the ones available at McDonalds with the differences being that the KFC snack wraps have way too much sauce--and I'm more of a "less sauce please" person. It also didnt' help that there was quite a fair bit of pepper in the sauce, not allowing me to taste much more and leaving me with a need for something sweet to balance my palate.

Overall, it's not a bad snack...but if you're anything like me, make sure you ask for less sauce.

06 February 2011

simon's wok vegetarian kitchen

by nature, im an omnivore so going totally vegetarian isn't always the easiest thing...especially when i often need meat to feel full. so when i went to Simon's Wok Vegetarian Kitchen to celebrate Chinese New Year with my mom, aunts and uncles i was pretty darn fearful i'd end up missing the meat im used to having for protein. guess what? that didnt' happen at ALL!

with a plethora of dishes that included protein sources like beancurd and cashews. there were also a lot of dishes that had mushrooms, which are quite meaty in texture and hearty. even dessert was really good...afterall...how does one say no to a sweet, fried pancake with red bean paste in the middle?

overall, i have to say that this place is great for vegetarians and vegans--and incredibly affordable too, so you do get quite a bang for your buck.

location: 797 Gerrard St. E (Gerrard & Logan)

25 December 2010

Chako: Korean BBQ take 4

as one who's no stranger to korean bbq, Chako came as no surprise to me: all you can eat, meats marinated a bit too much. the only surprise here was that in addiition to the various meats available, you can also get sushi, fruits and veggies. on top of all that, there is not much else to compare: you're charged extra for what you don't eat, parties of 8+ have the gratuity built in etc. etc. etc.

one thing that really took me away here was the pleasant taste of the green tea and the option of either green tea ice cream, mango ice cream, red bean pudding or mango pudding for dessert. having had more than my fair share of green tea ice cream over the years as dessert, i opted for the mango ice cream and to my surprise it was actually quite pleasant and delicious!