Lunch with an Old Friend

Every year at Christmas I get together with an old good friend Beth and her family for the day.  I always look forward to it as it is a really nice full day of catching up and discussions on anything and everything.

This year for lunch Beth made a delicious soup. I gather it was supposed to be a squash soup but she added a package of chopped sweet potatoes instead of a second package of squash. I think it made the soup that much better by adding a sweet note to it. It was served with a dollop of yogurt on top with chopped green onions (might have been chives). Really nice and thick.

On the side were these delicious tiny pita pizzas. Beth used the tiny pitas split in half and on each side she put some brie cheese (I think it was brie) and caramelized onions and sun dried tomatoes.  Baked till the cheese melted and the pita got a bit crispy and served them warm.  Perfect light lunch (or appetizer) to go with the soup which was really filling.

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After lunch we went for a long walk along the boardwalk of Lake Ontario and did some more catching up. Beth lives in Asia so I am always curious as to what life is like there.

As always it was a great day!

 

PS – I should also say we had a fabulous dinner of sweet and sour pork over rice – A Lucy Waverman recipe, but my pictures didn’t do it justice. I do suggest you look up the recipe under “Sweet and Sour Pork” by Lucy Waverman in the Globe and Mail newspaper.  Well worth it.

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Memories of My Starving Post University Days and Kraft Dinner

I am sure I will get a number of people identifying with those days when you had no money, were trying to find yourself and a career after university (way back when….) and Kraft Dinner was a staple. No? Well you are the lucky ones (or should I say unlucky) 😉

There is something about Kraft Dinner that brings back tons of good memories. Now I know it is terrible food but bear with me as I did try to make it a touch healthier by adding a can of tuna.

I indulge in Kraft Dinner about once every 2-3 years so it’s not so bad and the things it makes me think about and remember are kind of fun so really how bad is that?

Here is my adult recipe for Kraft dinner (Did I say the box was on sale for 67 cents and made 3 meals?)

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1 box of KD cooked as per instructions. I only use 1 small pat of butter and a bit of skim milk just to thicken and moisten the orange powder they call “cheese”.

Once cooked and mixed, I add a tin of tuna drained, mix up and sprinkle bread crumbs on top with some sliced tomatoes. (I only had grape tomatoes so I used those instead). Then I bake it for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees till the edges get a bit browned.

All I can say is it was yummy, nostalgic and tasty all at once 😉

More Party Food

In a continuation of the party I went to last weekend and catered as well – I am sharing the food that was prepared for 30 people.  First off the party was amazing – my friends Jay and Jonathan live in Cambridge Ontario and have a fabulous historic home on a huge lot so the evening was spent under a pergola on the deck and then on the grounds for a big bonfire as the evening got cooler.  Too much fun was had by all.

Last weekend I posted the stuffed dates and salad (truth be told the salad was for another event but I liked the way it turned out). This week are all of the foods I prepared.  Remember everything was to be finger food style so plates and cutlery were not a necessity.

Here was my thinking behind the choice of dishes I made. I wanted food that could be eaten with fingers (i.e. on skewers) and to cover the basics of salad, main course meat/fish, side dishes and then dessert.

The while I had the above order in mind – we put everything out together as it worked better for people to just come to the table and pick their choices.

The menu and recipes – this is a long list so stay with me on this…

First off salad skewers made with grape tomatoes, bocconcini cheese balls and chunks of baby cucumbers. Just before serving I drizzled some balsamic glaze over these skewers.

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Next on the list was smoked salmon with cream cheese on crackers with some crushed dried nori (seaweed strips) sprinkled over top.

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Then came Korean grilled beef skewers and the honey mustard chicken skewers.  Below is the recipe for the meat – the Korean Beef is now a new favourite – everyone went nuts over it.

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I did the prep work for the meat the day before and marinated for 24 hours in ziplock bags.

Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers

So the honey mustard chicken is simple – just mix about a ¼ cup of honey with about 1/4 cup of olive oil and about 4 tbsp of dijon mustard – adjust to suit your taste.  I also added a few crushed garlic cloves and some ground black pepper. I used 6 chicken breasts cut into thin strips lengthwise so there was enough to put on a skewer.

Korean Beef Skewers – I got this recipe from Food and Wine magazine but adjusted a bit:

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons dry white wine – I used the same amount of chicken broth as I didn’t have any white wine handy

2 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1 2 1/2 pound beef flank steak, cut across the grain into thin long slices

1/4-inch-thick slices 16 scallions – I didn’t use these

Vegetable oil, for rubbing

Salt – didn’t add this either as the soy sauce had enough salt

1. Combine the soy sauce, sugar, white wine, chopped garlic, toasted sesame oil, and crushed red pepper, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced flank steak and coat thoroughly in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate the steak for at least 4 hours or overnight. 2. Working in batches, grill the steak over high heat (I BBQ’d it) until the slices are richly browned and medium-rare, about 30 seconds per side. Put pieces on a plate and let them cool – then put them on skewers just before serving.

Next was mini turkey meatballs in a sweet chilli sauce – this is my usual baked turkey meatball recipe but just made them smaller and tossed them with a store bought sweet chilli sauce instead of tomato sauce and put some into a cup for dipping as well.

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Next on the menu was my tuna and sweet potato cakes but made mini size and a cup of 1% yogurt for dipping.

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I then thought I needed something else that wasn’t meat and what do people love more than shrimp? Again I had a craving for shrimp and chorizo sausage so that was the next group of skewers.

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These are super simple – I sautéd the sliced chorizo and put aside – next I sautéd the shrimp in some garlic and put them in a dish – then it was just a matter of putting them together on bamboo skewers (they looked better on the shorter skewers than the long ones)

The side dishes were baby stuffed potatoes where you just boil the baby potatoes, then scoop out the centre leaving a bit of potato to hold the shape and then mix crumbled cooked bacon, chives and sour cream with the bits of potato you have scooped out . Once it is all mixed just spoon it back into the potatoes.  This was quite finicky but tasted good in the end so worth while.

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Last of the main course food was grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.  Simple and easy – just toss the asparagus in olive oil, then grill them (I did them on the BBQ) and then wrap a couple of stalks in a piece of prosciutto and you are done.

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Finally dessert – you saw the dates in my last post (I will put in again just so you see them). I put fresh fruit on skewers so they could be taken away from the table and you got several pieces at one without a mess. Each skewer had a slice of pineapple, a green grape, a strawberry, a purple grape and a raspberry.  You can make these with any fruit you like.

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And there you have it the whole party in food.  What I am not showing is the amazing evening we all had.  Great company, kudos to the hosts and all I can say is “when is the next party”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Party Time!

I am invited to a big party this weekend and the hosts asked if I wanted to make the food for the party as well (given I do a side food business).  I have been wanting to try a couple of things out so I agreed.  I will do several posts over the next few weeks with some of the dishes prepared.  Here is the first post of two dishes – very yummy – The dates are a little messy looking but well worth diving into. The first platter are Medjool dates with maple goat cheese.  The second is a salad platter that can be served with a fork and is easily eaten.

 

Madjool dates with maple goat cheese

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Ingredients (for what is shown in the picture):

40 Medjool dates (these are the very large plump dates)

225 grams of goat cheese plain

¼ cup of maple syrup

Directions:

Mix the goat cheese and maple syrup. I used a fork to just mix it all up.

Slice each date down the long side and take out the pit.

Fill each date with about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese mixture (maybe less depending on the size of the date)

That is it! – told you it was easy and boy do they taste good.

 

The second dish was just cucumbers and sliced tomatoes with some pearl sized bocconcini cheese balls sprinkled over top.  Simple but pretty to look at.

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Dinner with Friends

Had dinner with friends of mine the other night on a perfect evening.  The weather was just great for sitting outside in their lovely backyard before going in to eat. The company was great and the food was outstanding!

To start we had this amazing goat cheese appetizer. I must try this recipe which I will show here – not sure which cookbook it comes from but it was a great.  Dinner was yummy BBQ’d steak with roasted tomatoes and asparagus with peppers.  Oh soooooo good.

 

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goat cheese app

 

So the above appetizer was made in muffin tins – much like a small terrine.

The tin is lined with plastic wrap and a layer of goat cheese mixed with some fresh chopped chives is pressed into the bottom. Then a layer of smoked salmon is added.  Next a layer of thinly sliced green apples and then another layer of goat cheese with some chives sprinkled on top. The cheese is put in the fridge and when ready to serve you pop it out and surround the plate with some capers. My friend put it on a bed of lettuce with was perfect as it was a nice texture with the goat cheese.

Below is the BBQ meal with the roasted vegetables – just a great summer meal!

 

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steak and mushrooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quinoa Pizza Bites

Here’s a smart idea for quinoa. Saw this on a fellow bloggers site and thought I will have to try these. Looks simple and delicious!

My Real Food Family

I’ve been looking at various recipes that can be made with quinoa instead of just the typical recipes that replace rice.  This recipe from Fit for Success caught my attention so I thought I’d give it a shot.  I’m so glad I did!  It was a delicious, easy, AND healthy snack (or appetizer) and only takes a few minutes to make.  Serve with a little pizza sauce for dipping this recipe was a big hit!

quinoa pizza bites

Quinoa Pizza Bites

makes about 18 mini pizza bites

Ingredients:

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

1 large egg

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch of salt

Pizza sauce for dipping

Directions:

Cook quinoa according to package directions.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine all ingredients (except pizza sauce) in a mixing bowl.  Scoop about a tablespoon of mixture into lightly…

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