Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sea Scallops with Bacon


Sea scallops are so versatile, but my favorite way to prepare them is with bacon. Bacon wrapped sea scallops are really simple and I sometimes even make them for breakfast! Another easy way to enjoy them is to simply pan fry them and serve with garlic butter.

However, ordering them at a restaurant and getting them perfectly cooked and topped with bacon is even better! Scallops now remind me of Gordon Ramsey screaming about how they are overcooked or under cooked on Hell's Kitchen.

A few tips on panfrying scallops:

-Blot dry before frying
-Make sure the pan and oil in it is really hot
-Cook one side at a time until golden, flipping them only once after about 2 minutes

What is you favorite way to enjoy a sea scallop? Feel free to let us know by leaving a comment.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Heart Shaped Potato

I have found a heart shaped potato in previous bags of potatoes, but would always be in a rush to cook dinner. I would peel it and cook it up, but this time, the kids were in the kitchen with me. They found it to be interesting and wanted to take pictures of it and play with it for a bit. It was really cute and I thought about the times when we would paint using potatoes when I was in elementary school. This would be the perfect potato to paint with because it is already in the shape of a heart. It would simply need to be cut in half. Of course, I didn't have any paint on hand so the potato was peeled and cooked, just the same as the previous heart shaped potatoes that I have discovered. Lol.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Homegrown Garlic


I didn't realize how easy it was to grow garlic until my sister told me that all you had to do was plant one clove of garlic and you would get a whole head of garlic months later! I'm not much of a gardener, but I thought I would plant a few cloves just for fun. That was two years ago. I re-planted many more cloves last year and this is the batch I ended up with this year.

I didn't cut the garlic scapes off so I ended up with smaller bulbs of garlic. (At least that's what my sister said) Now, my dad told me that I ended up with smaller garlic heads because I planted them too close together. Either way, garlic can be planted in the fall or the spring. Garlic planted in the fall is usually ready by springtime and the garlic that is planted in the spring should be ready by the end of summer or early fall. Since fall has begun, I have planted many cloves of garlic from the new bulbs that I dug out from the garden. I'm looking forward to having even more homegrown garlic to cook with.

It's amazing how much garlic you can end up with from just a few cloves!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pumpkin Patch


Going to the pumpkin patch with the kids is so much fun. We go on a wagon ride and get to choose a pumpkin from the field full of pumpkins and go back to the farm where there are shows, bouncy castles and all sorts of other fun activities.

We go there every year and I usually roast the seeds from the pumpkin and my husband carves the pumpkins with the kids. I once tried to make a pumpkin pie instead, but it seems that the storebought pumpkin puree is much better and a lot more convenient to use.

Whether you make a pumpkin pie, jack o lantern or roast the pumpkin seeds, I hope you find the time to visit a pumpkin patch this fall!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Organic Vegetables



I have been trying to eat a more well balanced diet, especially since I not only cook for myself, but for my family as well. A typical visit to the grocery store would include picking up the usuals: broccoli, carrots, lettuce, potatoes...nothing extraordinary. Sometimes, I would pick up the organic vegetables if available. Once I discovered that I could get a basket of farm fresh organic vegetables each week, I thought, "Why not? Something different each week for my family and I to try." I find the nice thing is that it's fresh, in season, within that "100 kilometer range", and more flavorful.
Every Wednesday, we take a trip to the farm which is only 20 minutes away and we get our share of fresh organic vegetables which include things like: kale, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, assorted beans, peas, bulb onions, peppers, tomatoes, beets, beet greens, potatoes, garlic, herbs (dill, rosemary, cilantro, thyme etc). It has been fun so far because we also try new recipes or get to reinvent some favorite recipes. I don't think my fridge would have such a variety of vegetables if we simply went to the grocery store. I also love that we get to support a local farm.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Picnic Food

I don't often go to the beach, but we try to go at least a few times during the summer. We have a beach nearby so I usually don't think of packing any picnic food. A few snacks and juice or water is sufficient. However, we decided to try going to a different beach about 40 minutes away and that's when I started thinking about what to bring for lunch.

I'm not much of a lunch packer as I prefer to buy my lunch so I kept things as simple as possible so that we wouldn't have too many leftovers.

Here are a few picnic food ideas that I wanted to bring:

Egg Salad Sandwiches
Tuna Sandwiches
Watermelon
Whole Apples
Grapes
Vegetable Sticks
Popcorn
Pasta Salad
Potato Salad
Corn on the cob

Of course, we ended up bringing most of the food on the list and ate a lot of it since we stayed at the beach through lunch and dinner! It was a great beach and so much fun. There was a fried chicken place a few minutes away so we added that to our picnic food as well!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Apple Orchard



My sister and her husband go to an apple orchard every Fall.  They go to a U-Pick so that they can pick a variety of apples.  She told me that the nice thing about going to pick their own apples is that you can pick the type and size you want, and the best thing is that the apples are tree-ripened. 

When they go to the orchard, they wait for the wagon to arrive and get a ride to the aisles and aisles of trees -- which is a great afternoon trip for kids!  By the time it's time for them to go back, they will have picked three bags of apples that they will use to make pie and sauce, and just in general to eat.  She never remembers which apples to pick, but her husband does.  It's important to pick the right type of apple especially for baking because you want the right consistency for what it is that you are making.  Her husband is the baker, and so he makes apple pie using cortland or gala apples.  He doesn't pre-cook them, he just peels them and slices them thinly.

As they recently had a baby, this Fall the baby will be starting on solids.  They intend to put the baby in his carrier (since a stroller wouldn't be able to go on the wagon ride), pick some apples, take lots of pictures, and make some apple sauce using their Vitamix.  Traditionally they would make the apple sauce on the stove, but since they have a Vitamix and a lot less time on their hands now a days they are going to try that this year. 

Applesauce in general is very easy to make, and you can use whichever apple you like best.  It just depends on whether you like something sweet or tart.  If you choose a sweeter apple then you can avoid using sugar.  I personally use whichever apple I have, which is usually red delicous.

TO make Applesauce, I keep it nice and simple. I peel and core the apples and cut them into quarters. Then I put them in a pot and add water until it covers up to 1/3 of the apples. I bring it to a boil and then turn the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid until the apples are tender. (about 10 minutes) Next, I blend it all up with a hand blender and add a pinch of cinnamon. You can make as much or as little as you would like!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Concord Grapes


I love farm fresh fruits during the summer. My sister likes to get her fruit in bulk from a local farmer and I usually end up getting some as well. They have all sorts of fruits that they offer each week. This week they have concord grapes amongst other fruit. I'm not sure what the difference between Concord grapes and Coronation grapes are, but I'm sure they are both equally delicious. Growing Concord grapes is probably out of the question , because of our very short summers.

I love the firmness of these concord grapes and the sweet and sour taste they have. The grape flavor just bursts and the aroma is second to none.  I can't wait to see what they have next week!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pancake Mix Funnel Cake

I love funnel cake so when I saw them being made at the carnival, I thought, why not try making it at home!

For the batter, I used Pancake Mix. I just followed the instructions on the box and then poured the batter through a funnel into hot oil. I fried it until golden brown and put the cake onto a paper towel lined plate to help blot the oil. Then I sprinkled the funnel cake with powdered sugar, topped it with some strawberry sauce and a scoop of my favorite vanilla ice cream.

The strawberry sauce was very easy to make as well. I simply put into a saucepan, a pint of washed and hulled strawberries, 2 tbsp. of lemon juice, 1 tbsp. water and 1/2 cup of sugar (3/4 cup if you like it really sweet). I stirred the mixture over medium heat until the strawberries were well cooked, then turned off the stove and removed them from the heat.

If you have made homemade funnel cake, I would love to hear all about it. Feel free to comment! :)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Baby Shower Menu

For me, the big part of planning a baby shower is the baby shower menu. I don't have a lot of time to cook so I generally keep food simple.

Here is a basic baby shower menu that I put together recently. It is made up of really easy to make items.

Appetizers: vegetable platter with dip & spinach dip with pita triangles/bowl of tortilla chips

Light Lunch: Sandwich Platter (Cucumber Sandwiches, Egg Salad Sandwiches & Tuna Sandwiches)  along with pasta salad and spring mix salad.

Dessert: Vanilla Cake with buttercream frosting, chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, strawberry tarts and a fruit platter.

Drinks: I usually purchase bottles of sparkling juice and chill them the night before the party. The bottles are usually pretty so I just bring out a bottle or two at a time and leave them out. I also purchase Iced Tea as I find it is usually a favourite. I pour the iced tea into a pretty jug though, so that it looks nicer. :)

There are so many simple foods to consider when putting together a baby shower menu. These are just a few ideas. I hope you find this simple party menu to be helpful and please feel free to comment with what your party food favorites are!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Egg Salad Recipe


Egg salad sandwiches are one thing that I like to make when I throw a bridal or baby shower. Adding simple vegetables with dip to the mix as well as other simple foods allows for variety very little effort. I usually don`t follow any particular egg salad recipe, but below is the simple to method I use to make egg salad.

To make the egg salad, boil 2 eggs for every three sandwiches you plan to make. Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel them, chop them, then place them in a mixing bowl. Add one third of a stalk of celery (chopped) per 2 eggs, 2 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise, 1 tsp. of your favorite salad dressing, salt and pepper to taste, then mix well.

Spread the egg salad onto a piece of bread and top it off with a second piece of bread shortly before you will be serving the sandwiches. Cut the sandwich into quarters. Although it`s not necessary, I cut the crust off of the sandwiches before putting the egg salad onto the bread, because that is a personal preference of mine.

If you decide to make the egg salad sandwiches ahead of time and want to refrigerate them, wrap them well in plastic wrap and place them in a container before putting them in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dim Sum

When entertaining, I used to always make most the food from scratch. From the salads to the appetizers to main course and dessert, it got quite time consuming. I would start all of the prep work the night before and be tired by the time the guests arrived. For instance, dim sum items such as spring rolls would all be rolled the night before.

To save time, I started to keep things simple by finding creative and easy appetizers for a party. It led me to start purchasing frozen appetizers so that I could just pop them in the oven just before guests would arrive. That way, I wasn't as exhausted and could talk more with my guests.

I found a box of frozen premade dim sum appetizers at Costco which had a variety of four different items and decided to try them out. They are similar to something I would usually serve as part of the appetizers during a get together and they ended up being quite tasty and easy to bake too. I served them alongside veggies with dip and had a lot more time to relax!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sweet and Sour Pork


Sweet and sour pork is one of my favorite dishes to order when going out to a Chinese restaurant. I sometimes try to make it, but it sometimes tastes better when someone else does the cooking!

During one of our recent family get togethers, my brother in law decided to make sweet and sour pork as his contribution to dinner. He usually uses ketchup as the base for the sauce, but believe it or not, we didn't have any! Instead he used tomato paste and it turned out even better than using ketchup.

To make the sauce:

In a saucepan, mix together 1/3 cup tomato paste, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup vinegar, 3 tbsp. pineapple or orange juice, 1 tsp. of sesame oil (optional), 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper.

Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat

For the pork and vegetables:

In a wok or large fry pan, stir fry 1 pound of pork (cut into 1.5" chunks) until cooked.

Then add 1 bell pepper also cut into chunks (it can be any color, red, green, yellow or orange), 1 julienned carrot, 1 medium onion (sliced into 3/4 inch segments), and a 1/2 cup of pineapple chunks (fresh or canned works fine). Stir fry it all together for a minute or two, then add the sauce. Stir it up and serve with rice!

Pretty simple isn't it? :)

If you love vegetables, feel free to add more peppers and carrots.
Also, if you prefer to make sweet and sour chicken, you can replace the pork with chicken instead.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Garlic Cheese Ball


Cheese balls come in many different varieties, but one of my favorites is the garlic cheese ball. They are great as an appetizer or snack no matter what the occasion. I just set out a platter of gourmet crackers and toasted pita triangles along with a cheeseball. Nice and simple. This particular cheese ball is not homemade, but storebought. A shop I came across had all sorts of cured meats, cheese balls, delicious crackers and many other goodies. I couldn't help but purchase a few items including a garlic cheese ball! Although cheese balls seem to be simple to make, this storebought cheeseball was delicious and well worth it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What to Pack in a School Lunch

I often find myself wondering what to pack in a school lunch. Not for myself of course, but for my preschooler. She is somewhat picky when it comes to what she will or will not eat at school. I find that I end up packing a lot of healthy snacks for her instead of the typical sandwich, snack and treat. Tree nuts are not allowed into the school at all which unfortunately means, no peanut butter sandwiches.

I always make sure there are whole grains in her lunch either in the form of crackers or bread. Generally crackers and cheese are a favorite of hers so I include those in her lunch along with whole grain bread cut into 4 little squares, hoping that they get eaten with some cheese sandwiched in between. As for vegetables, cucumber and broccoli are the only ones that she will eat raw, and I don't feel too comfortable packing those in her lunch considering they will not be refridgerated. Therefore, I always have veggie chips on hand so I can add those to the lunch bag. I add an apple as well along with a small portion of sunflower butter.

I always keep a look out for other interesting lunchable foods while at the grocery store, but for now, I just make sure she has a full and hearty breakfast and then a mini meal instead of a snack when she gets home from school.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lemon Drop Tomato


These are adorable lemon drop tomatoes that my sister brought over. They are not extremely sour as their name may suggest, but slightly tart. My local grocery store usually offers the equally small cherry tomato. However, I will be sure to look for lemon drop tomatoes now that I am aware of their existance. They would add a lovely color to any salad!
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