Thursday, February 28, 2013

playing with spices: sumac

I have heard much about the spice sumac and came across it recently in a local middle eastern store.  The sumac spice is made from ground dried sumac berries, which are a relative of poison ivy(!).

Sumac is a middle eastern spice that is burgundy in colour.  The taste of sumac is lemony and tart but more complex than a lemon.  It is used as a condiment, like salt, but also in spice rubs, dressings and marinades.  The spice is gaining in popularity.  In fact, Alton Brown named sumac his official spice of 2012.

You often encounter sumac at donair shops, sprinkled over the raw onions.  It is also a great topping for hummus.

Sumac is best known for being a key ingredient in Fattoush, a middle eastern salad containing pieces of crispy pita bread. The salad is made with romaine lettuce, chunks of cucumber and tomatoes, herbs like mint and parsley and tossed together with the pita and the dressing. I used sumac in the dressing as well as sprinkled it on top.  It adds a great sweet and sour taste to a refreshing salad.

Fattoush (Middle Eastern Pita Bread Salad)
Romaine Lettuce
Tomatoes, diced
Cucumbers, diced
Green onions
1 pita bread, brushed with oil and toasted

1/4 cup olive oil
zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp sumac

Mix the salad ingredients together. Top with as much dressing as you need and then sprinkle with some sumac.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

win a fabulous home and garden show gift basket!

There is more winning here with the Calgary Home and Garden Show! They have a fabulous gift basket containing items from a few of the businesses featured at the great event.  Along with two tickets to the home show, this basket contains some great items, from amazing food & snacks to discounts on services.

Items in this gift basket include:
  • Craft beer mug and gift certificate
  • Crave cupcakes gift card for cupcake pack
  • Trend Trunk gift card
  • $200-$2,600 discount off of Sunshine houseboat rentals depending on coupon #
  • Aspen Clean cleaning kit
  • Swimco sunglasses
  • Kienna coffee pods and adapter
  • Green kids crafts seed pod kit
  • Awake chocolate bar
  • Dominion Lending Centre Letter openers
  • Tums
  • Glad bags
  • 15% off of Waite Woodbeck imagery and Design
Entering is easy!  Contest closes on Wednesday at 12pm. Click here for another chance to win tickets.

Friday, February 22, 2013

calgary home and garden show (win tickets!)

Q is very excited. He just found out that he gets to see his favourite builder friend again at the Calgary Home and Garden Show taking place next weekend, February 28th to March 3rd.

Family Day at the Calgary Home and Garden show will take place on Friday, March 1st, 2013. Bob the Builder is back again and will be performing shows at 12:15pm and 3pm. Keep the kids entertained with interactive, animal-themed play sessions hosted by the Calgary Zoo, ambulance tours hosted by Calgary EMS and giant LEGO house-building.  You can have fun as well with cooking demos, discovering what's new in design and filling your belly at food truck alley.

Enter below to win tickets to the show. Winners will be chosen on Wednesday, February 27th and tickets will be available at Will Call.  For readers who don't win passes but are still interested in attending the show, enter the discount promo code "BLOG". Click here for more information.

Click here for another chance to win tickets.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

kashi and heart health month

With Valentine's Day being in February, it seems appropriate that it is Heart Health Month. 

Kashi has a new addition to its family of natural foods - Blueberry Oat Clusters and Flakes, just in time for Heart Health Month. Each cup of this cereal contains 6 grams of protein and offers 45 percent of the daily amount of fibre shown to help lower cholesterol. 

Q loved the blueberry taste and I liked having both the flakes and the clusters - you don't have to choose!

Kashi wants you to try a box for yourself.  Enter below for your chance to win!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

baked apple chips for apple month

February is Apple Month! Apples are a staple in our house. Q likes the little ones that he can grab and crunch on and they are perfect to throw into hubby's lunch.

To celebrate, BC Tree Fruits is having a contest where you and your charity can win $2,000.  The Good To Go campaign asks fans to share a photo showcasing where and how they enjoy their apples. Click here for more info.

We changed it up a bit for Q's snack and made a batch of apple chips. Perfect for nibbling on while watching Dinosaur Train.

Baked Apple Chips

2 apples
2 TB agave syrup
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Slice the apples as thin as possible and place on a baking sheet.

Combine the agave syrup and the cinnamon together.  With a pastry brush, paint the apple slices with the paste.

Bake for an hour and a half until the apples are crisp.

Monday, February 18, 2013

homemade almond joy

It's become a tradition that hubby gets homemade chocolates for Valentine's Day.  I was looking for something different this time, having already made truffles a number of times, and homemade Ferrero's last year.
I considered homemade turtles but then realized the caramel and pecans would be more for me than my love. When I found this recipe for homemade almond joy from Joy the Baker, I thought it was the perfect idea.
It didn't take long and the chocolates tasted so close to the real thing.  Of course, my little man had to get a box too!  I made his a little smaller and he was so excited to get some homemade chocolates from his mamma.

Homemade Almond Joy
From Joy the Baker

7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
30 roasted almonds
about 20 ounces of good quality semi sweet chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract.  Stir in the unsweetened coconut.  The mixture will be thick.  Place mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Remove the coconut mixture from the freezer.  With clean hands shape one tablespoon of coconut into a little log about 2 inches long and 3/4-inch thick.  Press the logs together very well so they don’t crack when dipped.    Place the log on the lined baking sheet and continue until all of the coconut mixture is gone.  Place the baking sheet in the fridge to chill while you melt the chocolate.

Place a medium  pot with two inches of water over a medium flame.  Bring the water to a simmer.  Place chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl and place the bowl over the simmering water.  Stir the chocolate as it melts.  Turn off the flame once the chocolate has melted but keep the bowl of melted chocolate over the hot water.

Remove the formed coconut from the fridge.  Place one coconut almond log on a fork.  Use a spoon to scoop a bit of chocolate over the almond.  This will help the almond stick to the candy and not fall off during dipping.  Lower fork into chocolate and spoon chocolate over candy to coat.  Lift fork and gently shake to release some of the chocolate.  Scrape the bottom of the fork along the side of the bowl and place on the lined baking sheet. 

Let dipped candy harden in the fridge for 45 minutes.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  If you need to layer the candy in a container, use waxed paper to separate the layers

Thursday, February 14, 2013

happy valentine's day!

Happy Valentine's Day!  Hope you all have a fabulous day celebrating with sweets and chocolate.

This year, Q wanted to make some cookies for his friends.  I thought it would be a great time for us to try a new roll out shortbread recipe.  I found one that had gotten some great reviews but for some reason it didn't work for us!  I ended up with a really dry and crumbly dough that just wouldn't come together.  I played around, added butter, then more butter.... Finally a splash of cream turned it into a pliable dough.  Despite the additions to the recipe, the cookies tasted great - butter and cream makes everything good!
Q had fun rolling out the dough and cutting out the hearts.  It was a great Valentine's activity.

I wanted to decorate the hearts but needed something fast and without sprinkles.  This glaze worked perfectly.  One dip of the heart in the glaze and they were fully decorated.  Half the recipe coated 35 hearts.

Sugar Glaze for Cookies

2 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup milk
food coloring

Mix the ingredients together and it's ready to use.

Monday, February 11, 2013

white elephant thai cuisine

Sometimes the best food can be found in the most obscure places. This place is definitely not a secret though. I had heard so much about how great the White Elephant Thai Restaurant is and it definitely lived up to its reputation.

Located in the Pointe Inn, you would never know that this hotel held such a gem. We were advised to make reservations and we were glad we did.  The place was quite busy, even for a Tuesday.

We started with the Tom Yum Goong soup with coconut milk. Full of veggies and shrimp, it was spicy and flavourful.
We got a few things that we thought Q would like.  The thai-spiced wings weren't spicy but had loads of flavour. They were deep fried and had a great crunch.
Q is also a sucker for spring rolls so we ordered some of their veggie ones. He found them a bit spicy, meaning more for mamma.  They were so tasty, I wasn't complaining.
S's cousin was with us and, being a frequent traveller to Thailand, suggested the Som-Tum - green papaya salad. Although spicy, it was a very fresh tasting salad and one we would definitely order again.
One of my favourite curries is Panang so we ordered one with chicken. It was sweet and spicy, and bursting with flavour.
We also had the red curry with beef and pineapple.  The chunks of fresh pineapple added the perfect sweetness to cut the spicy curry.  It also contained large chunks of lemongrass that flavoured the coconut milk.
The coconut rice was pure perfection. Full of coconut goodness, it soaked up the flavourful curries.
The quantities of all the food was plentiful, more than other restaurants.  We had lots of leftovers and were able to enjoy the delicious food the next day.  It was a great meal and we ended on a high note with the coconut ice cream.
What everyone said was true, it was an amazing restaurant.  I just can't wait until my next visit.

 White Elephant Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 9, 2013

happy chinese new year!

market restaurant

Hubby and I had a great time last night at the media opening of Market Restaurant.  Located on 17th Avenue,  the new restaurant offers bread and cheese made in-house, and grow their own greens and herbs in their Urban Cultivator.  I really need one of these! I don't know which I loved more, the cultivator or the plants hanging over the bar.

The food we sampled was amazing, from the scotch quail eggs, oysters and fois gras macarons.  Our favourites were the duck confit with shallot jam and the coddled egg topped with a chantilly cream.  I am really looking forward to going there again for dinner.  Here are some pictures from last night.


MARKET on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 4, 2013

cheese stuffed turkey meatballs

In our house, we are cheese fanatics. Usually, any dish loaded with cheese is a hit. These cheese stuffed meatballs were no exception.

The turkey was packed with flavour with the addition of pesto and the ooey gooey bocconcini centre was a very pleasant surprise.  I used the Trestelle Bocconcini* which were the perfect size to wrap the flavourful meat around. (Please excuse Q's fuzzy picture.)

The meatballs were cooked and tossed into our favourite marinara sauce. The boys ate theirs with pasta while I chose to eat my meatballs with a runny egg. So tasty!

Cheese Stuffed Turkey Meatballs

1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 TB minced garlic
1 TB pesto
1 egg
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
12 bocconcini
marinara sauce

Combine the turkey with the cheese, crumbs, garlic, pesto egg and onions.  Divide the meat into 12 balls.  Form the meat around the bocconcini.  Pan fry until cooked.  Add some marinara sauce and enjoy with pasta (or an egg!).

*I did receive vouchers from Trestelle to try out their cheese.  Opinions are my own.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

super bowl party

We had a great time today with some fabulous friends. All in the name of football, it really was about the company and of course, the food.  Here's a peek at what we stuffed ourselves with.

..and more ribs.
seven layer dip...
...strawberries with whipping cream and balsamic vinegar.
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