Monday, August 31, 2015

minute rice cups - and a giveaway!

It's back to school week! I can't believe that the summer just flew by. It was a fun summer, with busy days at camp or at the beach and lazy days hanging around the house. We enjoyed our trips to the mountains and our trip to our nation's capital. It just went by too quickly!

Back to school means back to a routine. Not just a school routine but also those after school activities that make the days seem so long. Life is busy and sometimes trying to get food on the table and enjoyed in a short amount of time can be hard.

Minute Rice® Ready to Serve Cups are pre-portioned single serving mini-bowls of rice that take only one minute in the microwave to cook perfectly every time. Available in Basmati, Whole Grain, Oriental Style, Vegetable Medley, Long Grain; Wild Rice – Fine Herbs, Long Grain; Wild Rice – Chicken Flavour and Mexican, the rice can be eaten straight out of the cup, as a side dish, or combined with a protein for a quick one-dish meal.

GIVEAWAY! Want a chance to win some Minute Rice for yourself? You can win three cases (48 cups – a $66 value) of Minute Rice Ready to Serve Cups. Enter below! Contest closes on September 15, 2015.

*Contest is open to Canadian (excluding Quebec) residents only; prizes are limited to one prize per winner – i.e. while a person may enter multiple Minute Rice Ready to Serve Cups online contests, he or she is eligible to collect a prize from only one of the contests entered.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

canada beef and karisma resorts

I first learned about the Canadian Beef Culinary Series last year, when I attended the Canada Beef & Karisma dinner at Rouge restaurant in Calgary. It was there that I sampled amazing beef dishes created by Chefs Allemeier and Rogalski and learned about Karisma resort. It was also there that I won a stay at the hotel in the Mayan Riviera, which turned out to be one of our favourite vacations (Part 1 | Part 2).

I was excited to be invited this month to the Karisma Influencer and Media event held at the new Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence which opened earlier this year in Calgary.

We were fortunate to be treated to a four course meal made by the talented chefs at Karisma Hotels featuring Canada Beef.  With Jeroen Hanlo, VP of Food & Beverage Operations at Karisma Hotels, the chefs kept us entertained and well fed all evening. 

We first toured the amazing centre - fully equipped with a consumer kitchen, commercial kitchen as well as the beef fabrication room. We learned a lot from Marty Carpenter, the Centre Director and Abe van Melle, the Centre Technical Manager.

The evening started out with a tasty bite - beef tartare with habanero aioli. The platter was beautiful arranged with flowers and the beef was served on potato chips.

Our first course was Canadian AAA Spice Rubbed Tri-Tip, Baby Beets, Blue Cheese, Chantrelle Mushroom prepared by Chef Florian Durre, Executive Chef and Elorado Royale.

Our second course was Canadian AAA Petit Tenderloin, Yucatan Sauce "Chimole" prepared by Chef Jonaten Gomez Luna, Executive Chef at La Chique.

Our main course was the Canadian AAA Aged Rib-Eye, Black Corn Truffle, Creamy Sweet Corn  with Traditional Mole and Tamarind. The rib-eye was my favourite cut, soft like butter. This course was prepared by Chef Francisco Perez, Executive Chef and Dorado Seaside Suites.

The final course was an amazing sight. The chefs prepared dessert using liquid nitrogen! The nitrogen was used to make creamy rhubarb sorbet as well as icy beads of carrot juice. This along with some coconut sponge, yogurt foam and cotton candy made for a flavourful dessert with lots of textures.

It was a fantastic evening, combining a couple of my favourite things - beef and Mexico!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

calgary food tours - craving kensington

I was thrilled to finally take part in a food tour a couple months ago. It was so amazing, I've been raving about it since. My friend Karen Anderson, the nicest person you will ever meet, started Calgary Food Tours in 2006. The tours take place through different neighbourhoods around the city (as well as some markets) while the tour guides share their passion for food along with some history.

The tour that I took was Craving Kensington which included two blocks of deliciousness in the neighbourhood of Kensington. The tour started at the beautiful Kensington Riverside Inn. Our tour guide Jenny filled us in on some interesting history of both Calgary and Kensington. Having been born and raised in Calgary, I was a little embarrassed that I didn't know a lot of the information that I learned that day.

Next stop was lunch at Pulcinella. This gorgeous 2-story restaurant is family run and serves delicious Neopolitan pizza cooked in a wood burning oven from Naples. We started with crispy calamari and a tomato salad with creamy burrata. This was then followed by a couple of thin crust pizzas. A lot of food for four people!

Following our Italian lunch, we went to The Naked Leaf and had a little tutorial and tasting. The store boasts many organic teas as well as an amazing patio to enjoy the drinks on.

Wine lovers rejoice - there's a stop at the Kensington Wine Market! The staff here are happy to share their knowledge and a glass or two of their favourites.

We moved along next to the Peasant Cheese Shop and tried out a few of their many cheeses. While there, you can also pick up some accompaniments like crackers, preserves and charcuterie.

It's a good thing we were doing a little bit of walking because our next stop was more food. We stopped at Brasserie Kensington for some of their poutine. The fries were perfect topped with cheese curds and duck gravy. Definitely going back again for that!

We ended the tour on a sweet note - at Crave. We were able to tour their newly renovated store and we learned how to do their trademark swirl. We were able to practice hands on so that was fun. Of course, sampling was involved.

If you ever get a chance, definitely try out one of the tours offered by Calgary Food Tours. It was a fun afternoon and I left with a full stomach and so much knowledge!

Monday, August 3, 2015

watermelon lime spritzer

We thoroughly enjoyed the long weekend. Saturday was beautiful and hot and a great day to spend on the water. The kids were excited to go tubing and even Z went in the tube with hubby.

We had friends over after and had a great time cooking together in the kitchen and barbecuing outside. We had chicken, beef kebabs, warm potato salad and fresh naan. It was delicious!

We quenched our thirst with watermelon drinks. The kids had blended watermelon, happily pouring their drinks from the watermelon keg.

For our drinks, we had watermelon lime spritzers. The combination of the watermelon, lime and mint was refreshing. Perfect for a hot summer day!

Watermelon Lime Spritzer

1/4 cup blended watermelon, strained
1/4 lime, juiced
simple syrup
mint leaves
sparkling or still water

Fill a glass with ice. Add the blended watermelon, strained. Add the lime and a splash of simple syrup - as sweet as you like it. Top the glass off with your choice of still or sparkling water. Garnish with mint. Enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2015

#MenchiesMyWay - win a summer vip pass!

There's nothing better than a cool treat on a hot day. That's why Menchie's is always a favourite this summer.

Menchie's is the largest growing frozen yogurt franchise in Canada. Menchie's just launched the new Oreo cookie flavour, one of over 150 flavours available at the froyo joint. The best part of Menchie's is it lets your creativity shine.

You start at the yogurt bar where you can mix up your favourite frozen yogurt and sorbet. Next you head on over to the snack bar where you can add toppings like nuts and candies. Next stop is the toppings bar where you can add fruit, cookie dough or bobas. Last stop are the sauces  - from Nutella to peanut butter sauce, there's a topping for everyone.

Menchie's is giving away a Summer VIP Pass giving you 7 complimentary visits to any Menchie's location across Canada. Winning is easy!

1. Get creative and take a picture of your Menchie's creation
2. Follow @Mechies_CA and @fareenjj on Twitter or Instagram
3. Name your creation and share it on Twitter or Instagram - be sure to hashtag #MenchiesMyWay as well as tag both @Menchies_CA and @fareen.

I'll pick a winner on August 18th.

I went to Menchie's on 17th Avenue in Calgary a couple weeks ago and came up with this creation - The Nutty Chocolate Bomb made with Oreo and Nutella froyo, topped with Nutella, almonds, peanuts and Nanaimo bars!

What's your creation?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

banana cake

There's something about a bundt cake. It looks great, provides comfort and always seems to impress.

My mom makes really amazing banana cupcakes.They are moist and flavourful and perfect for on the go. I decided to use her recipe but made a bundt to serve for dessert. The ripe bananas made the cake sweet and the chocolate paired so well with the fruit.

The cake itself was fine on its own but I thought I'd make it even better - I added chocolate on top! I made a quick ganache and once it was a little cool, I poured it on top of the cake. It took it to another level. Chocolate always seems to have that effect.

Banana Cake

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream

icing sugar

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Mash the bananas and add to the mixture.

Add the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Add in the yogurt and the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into a greased bundt pan or muffin pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

For the topping, heat the whipping cream until it starts boiling. Pour over the chocolate chips. Let cool a bit and then pour on top of the cooled cake. It's best to place the cake on top of a rack placed on top of a tray. Dust with icing sugar.

Monday, June 22, 2015

cream scones

Happy belated Father's Day! Hope all the daddies out there had a wonderful father's day yesterday!

Our breakfast was a last minute arrangement so we wanted something that was quick and stress-free. We celebrated the dads with a breakfast of steak and eggs. I made a huge batch of scrambled eggs, thinking this would be better than making everyone individual omelets.

Hubby sprinkled some streak with lots of Montreal Steak Spiced which was done on the grill. The combo of the steak and eggs was just perfect for a celebration breakfast.

To go with the steak and eggs, I quickly whipped up a batch of cream scones. This is my favourite recipe for scones! It's a great way to use up any extra whipping cream you may have lying around. It's also a quick and easy way to make scones - no rolling, no cutting - it's perfect when you're in a hurry.

I discovered Julie's recipe on Babble a couple of years ago and have loved it every since. Best served warm with butter and jam, they are sure to be a fave.

Cream Scones
From Babble

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the cream and stir just until the dough comes together. Drop by the large spoonful onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm. Makes about 1 dozen scones.
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