May 24, 2013
I’ve said it before, many times…
I’m not a cake person. I’m not a dessert person, really. If I want something sweet, it’s normally fruit. Or Swedish Berries.
But when we host dinner parties, I always try to have something simple for dessert. After all, lots of people love sweets.
Every now and then I surprise myself though, and find a recipe that I truly love. Like my Oreo cucpakes, for example. Or my banana chocolate chip muffins. I don’t claim to be a baker, but boy, are those awesome recipes.
I’m happy to report I have another to add to that list – this amazing orange cake that is just as tasty as it is pretty. Moist and mouth-watering, and –thankfully – easy!
I made it for a special occasion – my aunt JoJo and Uncle Stuff finally visited Ottawa and we had them for dinner. Luckily there were leftovers, even though we fed six people.
Summer Sunshine Loaf
Adapted from Canadian Living
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups flour
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1-3/4 tsp (9 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup icing sugar
4 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsps grated orange zest (garnish – optional)
In bowl, beat eggs with sugar until combined; whisk in oil and vanilla. Whisk together flour, orange zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with sour cream, making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of yogurt. Stir in orange juice. Spread in parchment paper–lined 8×4 loaf pan. Bake in 350 degrees until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk sugar with orange juice; pour over loaf, spreading over top and letting drip down sides. Bake the remaining zest in oven until just crispy and sprinkle over glaze.
Some of you might remember this Breaking News post from back in June 2011.
Well, it’s BBQ season baby… and that means bring on the burger recipes!!!
They were the best burgers I’ve ever had. So good that I’ve made them a few times now… and I mostly recently altered the recipes a little bit, making it even easier and more delicious.
Remember, you can use the same concept with your favourite burger recipe. You can even experiment with the stuffing (some might prefer goat cheese, as I have previously used). Any cheese inside a burger is delicious.
Maybe I should call these “jalapeño popper burgers”, because that’s basically what they are? Yum yum yum.
Jalapeño Cheese-Stuffed Hamburgers
Adapted from Canadian Living
1/2 onion, grated & drained or super finely chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs
pinch of salt & pepper
1 lb lean ground beef
Condiments/toppings (I used arugula, tomato, honey mustard and mayo)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped drained pickled jalapeño peppers
In bowl, stir together cheese, cream cheese and jalapeño peppers. Divide into quarters; flatten each into circles and freeze for 15 minutes. Whisk together egg, onion, bread crumbs, salt and pepper; mix in beef. Shape into 8 balls. Flatten each into a thin, wide patty. Top 4 of the patties with cheese circle; top with remaining patties, gently pressing and pinching edges to seal. BBQ for 7-8 minutes per side. Careful – cheese stuffing will be very hot!
May 21, 2013
If we were chatting over a cup of tea, I’d tell you about my half fabulous long weekend. Most of it was spent with My Other Half putting around our house, getting things ready for summer and BBQing, but the other half was spent sick in bed (on my part). Not the way I wanted to spend my Victoria Day! Luckily I am off today, resting and reading Gone Girl in bed. I am too busy to be sick in the next few weeks so I need to take care of myself!
I mentioned the BBQ… if we were chatting over a cup of tea, I’d tell you we’ve barbecued every single night (as long as the weather was okay). I am loving it! My Other Half recently smoked baby back ribs for the first time and they were delicious. I am hoping to be able to stomach some leftovers this evening. We’ve also been making a lot of homemade burgers, steaks and Costco sausages (the best!)… as well as the most amazing treat ever – authentic donair sausages straight from Nova Scotia! And Mama brought us real sauce! Tasted just like home.
If we were chatting over a cup of tea this morning, I’d definitely be talking about how excited I am for our best friends’ wedding in June. It’s less than a month away! Where does the time go? There is so much to do and look forward to. I’m very grateful to be a part of their special day. It’s going to be perfect!
If we were chatting over a cup of tea, I’d probably express my uneasiness with the new cleats I just bought. I wanted them in white, but they didn’t have my size. They fit and feel great, but I am not a fan of the bright pink and purple. I think it’s obnoxious. Unfortunately most Adidas cleats are this colourful these days (and I will only wear Adidas Predators). I guess I’ll get used to them?
If we were chatting over a cup of tea, I’d be a little concerned about the 5k race I’m running with my girlfriends in early June… simply because I have barely run in the last month. I did a 5k on a treadmill last week in 30:43… which is less than desirable. As long as I break 30 minutes, I’ll be happy. I just pray I don’t get a stitch again this year!
May 17, 2013
Are you sick of Chinese recipes yet?
I’m not! But seriously, this is the last one. For a while, anyway.
The elusive Chinese fried rice. It’s a staple for sure, but it never tastes exactly like take-out when you make it at home, does it? Well, this recipe is as close as you’re gunna get.
The great thing about fried rice is that you can add whatever you want. I love to whip it up with leftover rice. The basics? Rice, eggs, vegetables and soy sauce.
I found this particular version on food.com, which I don’t normally use, but I like how there are reviews and ratings. I like hearing what other people thought of recipes. This one had rave reviews.
Chinese Fried Rice
Adapted from food.com
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons corn oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tbsps soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 cups cooked rice
4 green onions, sliced
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok and add onions. Fry until golden brown and add egg with sesame oil. Add the remaining oil and all vegetables. Stir-fry for 4 minutes and then add rice. Add soy sauce and combine until rice is evenly light brown.
May 15, 2013
Back again with more Chinese food!
This was actually my favourite recipe of them all. I loved the thick, fresh egg noodles and all the vegetables. It had great flavour and (like all the dishes) was even better the next day as leftovers!
You could easily add chicken or any protein to this dish if you wanted. I liked that we had a single dish without meat, though.
Vegetable Chow Mein
250 g fresh egg noodles
5 tbsps corn oil
2 tbsps oyster sauce
2 tbsps soy sauce
2 tbsps rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
125 g shiitake mushrooms, stemmed & thinly sliced
1 zucchini, julienned
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsps minced garlic
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and boil for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with running water. Place the noodles in a bowl and coat with 1 tbsp of corn oil. In another bowl, mix oyster sauce, 3 tbsps of water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and sugar. Heat a wok or frying pan and add 2 tbsps of corn oil. Add onion and red pepper and stir-fry until tender. Add mushrooms and zucchini and fry until golden brown. Transfer vegetables to a plate. Add remaining 2 tbsps of oil to the pan with ginger and garlic. Add noodles and cook until heated through. Add vegetables and sauce, stirring until combined.
May 10, 2013
As promised, I am back today with yet another recipe from our delicious Chinese food feast!
Today I’m going to share a recipe I have made a few times. It’s tried and true and quite easy. I’ve made a few versions of it and this one is by far my favourite.
My mother just loves cashews and her favourite dish anywhere is Cashew Chicken. Naturally I have followed in her footsteps!
3 tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
2 tsps minced ginger
1 lb chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsps Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cornstarch
3 tbsps corn oil
2 green onion, sliced
1 cup chopped cashews
Make the marinade by mixing 2 tbsps of soy sauce, the rice wine and the ginger. Coat chicken and set aside for at least 15 minutes (longer makes it better). In another bowl, mix 2 tbsps water with remaining soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, sugar and cornstarch. Stir to dissolve. Heat a wok or large frying pan and add 2 tbsps of corn oil. Remove chicken from marinade, draining well and discard the marinade. Add chicken to the wok and fry. Remove chicken to a bowl once pink is gone. Add remaining oil and green onions and fry until fragrant. Return chicken to the pan and add cashews and sauce. Stir until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked. Can be served over rice.
May 8, 2013
Before I get started, I just want to apologize for the terrible photography for these recipes. Cooking at night makes it really hard!
It should come as no surprise that our favourite dinner party guests are family – my cousin De and her boyfriend Jumbo. On top of being family, they’re also some of our best friends.
There are several reasons why they’re the perfect dinner party guests (for us). Just to name a few…
- De used to live with us, so she knows the kitchen/house almost as well as we do and is very helpful.
- Jumbo loves my cooking. I’m always more motivated to cook for people who enjoy it!
- They’ll try anything. I love guinea pigs!
- Because we’re so close, we don’t feel the need to “entertain”… we just relax and be ourselves.
- Jumbo works for Labatt and always brings lots of beer. It’s a great perk.
I know, right? You want to have them for supper now too.
Recently, we had Jumde (their self-proclaimed nickname… you know, like Brangelina) over for a Chinese feast. I have made a few semi-authentic Chinese recipes before, but never a full-on dinner party. It was quite the experience – lots of chopping, marinating and pre-mixing sauces.
Here’s the spread:
As you can see, we made five Chinese dishes. They are:
- Chicken Eggrolls
- Chinese Fried Rice
- Beef & Broccoli
- Cashew Chicken
- Vegetable Chow Mein
Two of these recipes are ones I have made before – the Guy Fieri Chicken Eggrolls (minus the avocado) and the Cashew Chicken (but I have never shared the recipe on the blog before).
But the other three recipes were new to me and My Other Half. As we always do for dinner parties, we divided up the recipes. He made the egg rolls and beef & broccoli and I did the rest (the eggrolls are very labour-intensive so it was only fair).
Now, let me get one thing straight – we are far from perfect cooks. We have hosted a few dinner parties where something went terribly wrong. But this Chinese feast was not one of those nights. Everything was delicious and probably pretty authentic.
My favourite dish was probably the chow mein, but Denise and My Other Half loved the beef & broccoli. I think Jumbo liked the eggrolls best… but he seemed to love everything.
Today I’m just going to share one recipe…. because otherwise it’d be way too long of a post. The others will come shortly!
Beef & Broccoli
1/4 cup oyster sauce
3 tbsps soy sauce
2 tbsps rice wine
2 tsps sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sugar
pepper, to taste
1/2 lb broccoli florets
2 tbsps corn oil
1 tsps minced ginger
1 lb sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced
Make the sauce by combining 1/3 cup water with the first seven ingredients. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the broccoli until tender-crisp. Drain and rinse in cold water immediately. Heat a wok or large frying pan and add the corn oil. Add the ginger and stir until golden brown. Add the beef and fry until just brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a bowl. Add sauce to wok and cook until slightly thickened. Return beef to the pan and add the broccoli. Stir until heated through.
May 7, 2013
If we were chatting over a cup of tea this morning, I’d definitely talk your ear off about my amazing vacation with my Mama. It was the perfect balance of sunshine, pampering, relaxation and exploring new places. I’m even happier to come home to such gorgeous weather in Ottawa – it’s almost as hot as the Caribbean! We met some lovely people and make great friends. The food, ship and company was terrific and I cannot wait for my next cruise.
If we were chatting over a cup of tea, I’d tell you about competing in Iron Chef on the ship… but I might leave out the part about me losing. In all fairness, my dish won the taste category… and lost because of what I NAMED my dish. I know, ridiculous, right?
If we were chatting over a cup of tea, I’d probably be detailing my gardening to-do list for you. Because it seems like Mother Nature snapped her fingers and made it summer, I was not at all ready. Yesterday I did some lawn repair and planted my annual petunia pots on the front step, but there’s a still a lot to be done, most of which has to wait for my big strong man to come home.
Speaking of My Other Half, I am counting down the minutes until our almost 3-month separation is over. Between his crazy amount of travel for work and basketball tournaments, I have seen very little of him in the last while (I think I counted and days were in the single digits). On Friday he’s finally home for the foreseeable future and just can’t wait!
If we were chatting over a cup of tea, I’d tell you I didn’t read as much as I’d hoped on my vacation. I read one book, The Forgotten Garden, which was 550 pages, but there’s wasn’t time for much else. It was excellent, by the way. Now I’m reading The Sisters Brothers and loving the writing style so far. My book club just picked Gone Girl and I am so excited to read that!
April 29, 2013
I am on a blissful vacation – from home, work and blogging!
A few people have been interested, so here’s our itinerary:
- Miami, Florida
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Philipsburg, St. Maarten
- St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
- Tortola, British Virgin Islands
- King’s Warf, Bermuda
- Cape Liberty, New Jersey
I’ll be back with new posts the week of May 5th. Talk to you then!