Party Palomas

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Hey guys!

It has officially decided to be spring in Edmonton, which means we have transitioned into summer basically. It’s like that here.

But that’s not what this is about. Apparently, tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo! Well, it’s definitely the fifth of May but I mean… tomorrow is the celebration of Mexico’s independence! I feel like our once-removed southern neighbors don’t get enough shout outs for anything other than tacos (so wrong, just like how we’re more than maple syrup in Canada!), so in recognition of their day, I wanted to celebrate a little! I love when people love on Canada, I’m extremely patriotic, so being that I appreciate that so much, I love to share some love on other amazing countries!

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Anyhow. Palomas. I was researching some fun drinks to make for taco night at my house, and I found palomas online but was really discouraged when I saw things like fancy grapefruit pop, simple syrup, mescal (which is hard to find here). So I decided to try to cut out the sugar and just keep it simple!

The recipe I came up with is for two drinks. You can multiply it however you like!

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Party Palomas

3 ounces of tequila

4 ounces of grapefruit juice

1 tablespoon juiced lime

Club soda to fill

Ice, sliced grapefruit and lime for garnish

Start off with a jar or cocktail shaker, and about 4 cubes of ice. Pour in your grapefruit juice, tequila, lime juice and a slice of grapefruit. Shake vigorously and then split between two glasses. Fill with club soda, garnish with a grapefruit or lime slice (or both!) and enjoy.  If it’s too tart for you, add a SMALL sprinkle of regular sugar into the jar before shaking.20170427_174101

A Night with Knives- Knife Skills Course Review

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I’m a sucker for Italian food. I love eating it, I love making it… so when my mom invited me to go to a risotto making course put on by the Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group last year, I was totally game. It was honestly an easy sell.

But when she started to insist that I take a Basic Knife Skills course put on by the Sorrentino’s Group, I was a little bit less psyched. A. My chopping was truly not that horrific. I’ve never sliced and diced myself and I cook a lot. B. I was unconvinced that it would be that fun… it seemed like a very academic course to be taking.

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I was wrong. I’m fully ok with admitting when I’m wrong, and this was one of those cases. Chef Jeff was our instructor, and what I thought was going to be a night of learning to chop better ended up being a night of learning how to make a proper marinara, tips for an authentic Bolognese, get more flavor out of my vegetables, cook the perfect chicken entrée, pick the best can of tomatoes and yes- I learned how to chop better. And enjoyed a gourmet meal, a couple glasses of wine, and a few hours of being the painfully slow chopper in the group.

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I didn’t anticipate what great value I was going to get out of this course, which was $90. Maybe it was a flaw in the online marketing for it, which simply said it was a basic knife skills class and “light meal”, along with a complementary chef’s knife. For starters, our group got a chef’s knife and a paring knife (which together sell for 50$ plus tax), and we seriously made so much food that I had three meals plus enough marinara to have friends over for dinner and those glasses of wine I mentioned. Chef Jeff was hands-on, engaged, and while he taught us how to properly use our knives he also passed on loads of tidbits that only someone experienced in the kitchen would know. He also filled the class with the type of humor and laughter that can diffuse even the most nervous of feelings.

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I don’t worry about chopping off my fingers anymore. Maybe I should, but the class built the confidence I needed to attempt to make finer cuts and the skills necessary to do it. Now my meals won’t just taste good- maybe they’ll even look good, too.

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Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group regularly hosts cooking classes, and they’re great to attend with your partner or a friend as well as solo. My family has taken the knife skills class, risotto making, pasta making, macaron making and pizza making classes. There’s a ton of regional courses that you can take as well, and they host seasonal courses (Christmas cookies, Mother’s Day Brunch how-to’s, etc) that fit your life.  Check out the upcoming course offerings at: https://www.sorrentinos.com/cooking-classes/

In accordance with recommendations on disclosing brand partnerships, I am not compensated or sponsored by Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group. They were blissfully unaware that I was a blogger, with Chef Jeff even asking at one point if I cook at home.

 

Fish Tacos 2 Ways!

Hey!

Fish tacos are 100%  one of my favorite indulgences in life. The crisp lettuce, spicy fish, cool and creamy avocado-lime crema and bright pico de gallo… it’s all so, so good. Plus, it’s actually pretty healthy (if you can force yourself to eat in moderation). Unfortunately a lot of the fish you get in fish tacos out a restaurants is breaded and then fried… so this is totally a make-at-home thing if you’re looking to keep it healthy!


I love to make enough spicy fish and fixings to have tacos 2 ways- once for dinner as traditional tacos, and once as a bowl for a nutritious, low carb meal. I figure if I’m going to put in the effort, it may as well last me a few meals!.

Fish Tacos 2 Ways!

Makes 4 meals for $12.71 or $3.18 per serving

For the crema:

2 avocados

1/4 cup greek yogurt

juice of one lime

For the spice rub:

Cumin, chipotle powder, oregano and chili powder. Optional: Southwest seasoning

For the pico de gallo:

3-4 tomatoes (I used vine)

1/2 a jalapeno

1/4 yellow onion

salt/pepper

General: shredded lettuce, corn or flour tortillas, white fish

I like to start by making my pico. I think that the hardest thing ever is to do tiny knife cuts when you’re hungry and just want to eat your dang tacos. Plus, ideally I make the components in this order: pico, shred lettuce, make crema, make fish- this way the crema is cool and the fish is warm.

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Back to the pico. I start by making a very fine dice of a quarter of an onion. Next, I make very fine dice of the tomatoes- if they’re super juicey, dump some seeds etc into a garbage bowl. Lastly, I take a jalapeno and slice the ribs out of half of it and discard along with the seeds. The nice fleshy green part is left, and you guessed it- I really finely dice it. After a very light sprinkle of salt and pepper, it’s ready!

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Next, we’re going to put our blenders to work. Literally, all you’re doing here is dumping 2 pitted and peeled avocados in a blender with 1/4 cup of greek yogurt and the juice of one lime. If you like cilantro, add a bunch in here! I don’t personally, so I didn’t.

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Ok finally, finally, let’s make our fish. I start with 2 fish filets for 4 meals, and in this case I used basa but your end result would be just as delicious with tilapia. I put a tiny bit of olive oil in a pan warming over medium heat and then make my spice mix while it warms up. In a bowl I put 1/2 tablespoon of cumin, 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder, a couple shakes of chipotle powder (this depends on the heat you want) and a scant 1/2 teaspoon of oregano. If you’re adding a southwest spice blend, you’d add it to the bowl now as well.

When your pan is hot, place the fish in the pan and sprinkle ~1/2 of your spice mix over top of the fish. As the fish cooks, start breaking it apart with the spatula. Gradually add the rest of your spice mix as the act of breaking the fish apart gives you more surface area to sprinkle over.

Once your fish is cooked and fully flaked apart, put it in a serving bowl and bring to the table with your tortillas, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo and avocado crema.

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Assembling your tacos:

I assembled my tacos by starting with a shmear of the cream to hold everything down, then a couple spoonfuls of fish, shredded lettuce and a sprinkling of pico. It’s that easy! 20170222_190124

Assembling your taco bowl: Assembling your bowl is just as easy. Lay down a bed of lettuce and then sprinkle fish on top, add a dollop of crema, a generous serving of pico, and enjoy! This is also great with fresh corn and/or black beans if you have some laying around.

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Do you have a favorite taco recipe? Let me know in the comments!

Bacon and Cheddar Potato Soup

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Hey guys!

This recipe is actually a slight switchup of one by the late, great King of Soups Ken Kostick.  It’s on page 154 of his book Ken’s Soup Crazy which you can apparently still get new through Abe Books, the only version of it that I found was $170 (WHAT), but you can buy used copies on Amazon for under $10. So full disclosure, this recipe is not original. I know people tell me all the time that nothing is “original” anymore with the internet but a little known fact about me is that I started writing as a Canadian University Press journalist (and later editor). I have a massive amount of respect for any creator and I am so, so against sharing intellectual and visual property without giving credit where it’s due and admitting when something isn’t of my creation (even when that means saying “I found this on Pinterest”). Yes, that includes fessing up when it’s actually my mom who came up with something… like this.

Disclaimers aside, this is the best potato soup I have ever had. Ever. The combination of crisp bacon, creamy potatoes and applewood smoked cheddar was so good that I joked to my sister that I could bathe in it. The trick to this soup being so good is twofold- cook your bacon first, then remove it to a paper towel for later.  Cook your veggies in the bacon fat for the flavor. Secondly, the applewood smoked cheddar is amazing. Since we’re going through a late winter deep freeze where I live, this seemed like the perfect recipe to share.

This isn’t an affordable meal with all of the bacon and cream and fancy cheese, but it is a delicious one and sometimes that’s important, too. You can easily strip this recipe back to one slice of bacon per serving, which will bring down the cost to roughly $15.85 and $2.64 per serving. If you want to try this out and it’s still a little too expensive for you, try making your own stock and finding the applewood cheddar in the smalls bin of the deli- those little chunks are often really well priced. Those two tips will save 4-5 dollars alone. I try to share the prices for how the average shopper will shop, but for me, this recipe is affordable because I search the sales bins, cut back on meat and make my own stock ($11.65 for 6 servings or $1.91 per serving).

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Bacon and Cheddar Potato Soup

Serves six for $18.85 or $3.14 per serving or $11.65 and $1.91 per serving using the tips I mentioned!

1/2 pound of diced bacon – $6.48

1 onion- $0.60

4 large potatoes, peeled- $2.80

8 cups chicken stock- $4.20 (or free if you make your own!)

1 cup applewood smoked cheddar cheese (grate)- $3.48

1/2 cup cream- $1.15

1/2 cup milk- $0.14

Pantry Staples: 1/2 tsp dried basil, 2 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper

Optional: 1/4 cup chopped parsley

In a large soup pot, saute the bacon. Once crisp, remove the bacon bits and deposit your onion and garlic in its place. Saute for two minutes (if there’s loads of fat, drain some off… you only want about how much oil you’d put in to sautee onions and garlic normally), then add the potatoes, basil and stock. You’ll want to bring this to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes (or until potatoes are cooked).

Once the potatoes are cooked, use a hand/stick blender to puree the soup until it’s smooth. Then you can add in the milk, cream and cheese and let it simmer until the cheese is fully melted. Garnish with the parsley if you like once you’ve served it in the bowls, but definitely sprinkle some of those bacon bits on top!

Do you have a favorite way to make potato soup? Let me know in the comments below!

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Michael Symon by Ergo Chef 6″ Chef’s Knife •
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Veggie Pizza

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Hey!

The other day I was totally jonesing for pizza BUT I didn’t have any traditional pizza fixings and I wasn’t about to pay for one (even though I live right next to an amazing pizzeria). So I kinda scrounged around in my freezer and fridge and came up with this! This is 100% not an affordable meal at a whopping $5.89 (yes, nearly 2$ more than I try to spend per day!), but it was delicious and pre-jobloss so I felt okay about it at the time. This is also a much more healthy option as the flatbread I used was actually a Flatout protein flatbread, which is super healthy when compared to other options. I priced this out using a PC Collection flatbread from Superstore, though, in case the flatouts are not available in your area. But, it’s worth checking it out to see if they are because just one of the protein flatbreads is 12g of protein and 40% of your dietary fibre for the day… and all just for 130 calories and 18 grams of carbs (10g of which being that fibre I mentioned). I like this because I quite often don’t purchase meat.

 

Veggie Flatbread Pizza

I ate the whole thing, and it cost me $5.89… no shame

Flatbread – $2.50

1/2 of a bell pepper – ~$0.90

Swiss Chard (~1/2 a bundle) – $1

Goat Cheese (~1/3 of a log) – $1.49

Pantry items: salt, pepper, thyme and olive oil

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Start by preheating your oven to 375, then slice your bell pepper and toss into a pan on medium heat on the stove with a bit of thyme and olive oil. Wash up your swiss chard and chop it into small sections while those pepper slices cook down. Once your peppers are getting soft, take them out and then add in the swiss chard to the hot pan to wilt.

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Next, drizzle a very small amount of olive oil over your flatbread and then sprinkle with more thyme. I used fresh thyme, but I think dried would work just as well. Then, I arranged my swiss chard and peppers using tongs since they were still hot from the pan and crumbled a generous amount of goat cheese over top.

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Last step, I popped my flatbread in the oven. I left mine in there for about ten minutes to soften the cheese and crisp up the flatbread. The flatbreads will get nice and crisp if you don’t over-do the toppings and make sure they’re decently cooked before putting them on (if undercooked, the natural water that comes out in the cooking process will come out on the pizza, making it soggy- that’s why the peppers and chard are presauteed).

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And enjoy! I had this with a glass of white wine and didn’t feel guilty at all about having a wine and pizza extravaganza on a random worknight. What is your favorite way to feel like you’re indulging when you’re really not? Let me know!

Kitchen Sink Pasta

20160904_171334I’m all about giving credit where credit is due- this recipe was 100% my mum’s brainchild. She likes to call it “Use Up Pasta”, she literally puts everything but the kitchen sink in terms of delicious vegetables in it. Whatever is lying around is fair game. This version has carrots, mushrooms, zuchini, celery, spinach and onions. But you use whatever you need to use up, that’s kind of the idea! I apologize, since these weren’t my groceries I’m not sure on what the costing would be, but I wanted to share this recipe because I feel like I harp on never throwing food away, and this is perfect for using up veggies that may otherwise not get used.

Kitchen Sink Pasta

Italian sausage
Small pasta (mini shells, penne, rotini)
Leftover veggies
Tomato Paste
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Start by taking your Italian sausage and breaking it up in an electric skillet or large frying pan. While this is cooking (or before if you’re like me and can’t do two things at once some days), dice all of your veggies to a similar size. Cook the meat until it is fully cooked and in small pieces, then drain off the fat and return the meat to your skillet and add your veggies on top. If you’re using an electric frying pan, this is a wicked time to pop that lid on and walk away to focus on getting your pasta water on to boil.
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My mum uses the cutest little mini shell pasta for this, and honestly it works really well because the tiny bits of veggies and meat tuck into the shells and it makes it pretty easy to eat. If you don’t have mini shells, penne or rotini will work well, too! Cook whatever pasta you choose according to the instructions on the package and drain. Reserve a bit of your cooking water just in case.
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Once your veggies start to cook down, add 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Your veggies and meat should be glossy and slightly red after incorporating and letting it cook for a couple minutes. If it’s not glossy and still feels more like meat and veggies than a loose, chunky “sauce”, then add a bit more tomato sauce and a splash of your pasta water. Once it’s looking saucey, add in a couple tablespoons of parmesan cheese and pine nuts (if you like, we like the crunch). Then add you drained pasta on top and mix to serve.
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I hope this gives you an idea of how to turn your random leftover veggies into something delicious! Let me know what veggies you’d add in the comments.

Steak and Goat Cheese Salad

Hello!

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This post is an example of how to turn a few strips of leftover steak into an amazing meal that feels both light and satisfying. In the summer I just love salads, meal salads, and will take any excuse to make one! I’m currently trying to grow lettuce outside my front door, but I’m not having too much luck sadly. That said, you can grab 6 heads of lettuce right now for $4.98 and go wild! That’s what I had done when I made this salad.

Yes, this meal is just 47 cents off of what I try to eat for on a daily basis, but every now and again a (still affordable) treat should be had. And sometimes those steak leftovers languish and never really live again in an exciting way, so this is an awesome option to do justice by them.

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Steak and Goat Cheese Salad

Serves one for $3.53

1/2 a head of romaine – $0.42

6 asparagus spears, roasted or bbq’d – ~$1

1/5 log of herbed goat cheese – $0.99

Grilled leftover steak (~1/8th of a pound of striploin) – $1.12

Dressing:

Grainy dijon, balsamic, olive oil, pepper

Assembly:

Take your lettuce and wash and dry it. Set it down as the bed of your salad. Next, chop your asparagus into bite size pieces and add them to the bowl, followed by bite sized pieces of steak and crumbled goats cheese. Your dressing is a good squeeze of dijon, a quick dash of balsamic, a glug of olive oil (~teaspoon) and a lot of cracked black pepper. Mix your dressing in a separate dish and then pour over the top and enjoy!

 

What’s your favorite summer salad?