Gastronomy and Life's Other Pleasures

Follow me on my gastronomic adventures!

Posts tagged dinner

4 notes

Lunch at Fiazza

While doing some shopping in the Byward Market on recent weekend, the husband and I were in the mood for a snack. We decided to try the brand new Fiazza, a casual, custom pizza restaurant.

The restaurant is pretty big, occupying the space of a former bicycle shop. To order your pizza, you line up (in the manner of Mucho Burrito or Subway) to choose either one of Fiazza’s specialty creations or to pick your own toppings. For our first time, we decided to go with one of Fiazza’s specialty pizzas (which range in price from $7.95 to $12.95), the Sicilian, which came topped with local spicy Italian sausage, roasted red peppers and a mix of Fiazza’s cheese blend and blue cheese.

We watched our pizza being prepared right in front of our eyes, and then off it went for a quick bake in the incredibly hot oven (we could see the temperature gauge and it was set to around 500 degrees). As we proceeded to the cash to pay for our pizza, we noticed small containers of aioli (presumable for dipping) in the self-serve bottled drinks refrigerator, and added one to our order (for $2.95).

Our pizza came out beautifully: it was perfectly cooked for our taste, and the toppings were ample. The sausage had a bit of kick to it and the blue cheese added a fantastic tang. We realized as we were eating it that this was the exact same pizza we had shared in South Beach, Miami earlier this year, so we had some fun reminiscing about our trip and our delicious eats. But I can’t forget about the aioli: WOW! It was perfect! Super garlicky, creamy and everything an amazing aioli should be.

Overall we really enjoyed our pizza at Fiazza, and the ample open air seating area which was great for people watching. The self-ordering and pick up system allows you to have a quick bite if that is what you need, but there is still the option to linger. We can’t wait to return to try their other pizzas!

Filed under food lunch dinner supper pizza Ottawa restaurant new Byward Market dough toppings cheese self-serve Fiazza fresh Sicilian blue cheese cheese blend sausage Italian sausage local review food review

5 notes

Weeknight dinner: Cheesy chicken and broccoli bake
Have you ever actually made one of the recipes that is on the back of a milk carton? I had not until just recently, when an abundance of leftover 3% milk was sitting in my fridge begging for a purpose. I had bought it for when my niece was visiting, and it had ended up not being completely used while she was here.
I had no idea what to use it for, as neither the husband and I would drink it straight up, and since I no longer take milk in my coffee, I couldn’t use it in that way. So when I noticed the recipe for a cheesy chicken and broccoli bake right on the carton, I thought, why not?
The result was comfort food heaven! A rich, cheesy sauce coated the chicken and broccoli  to make for a hearty and comforting dinner. We served it over a bed of rice to help absorb the extra sauce.
*********************************************************************************
Cheesy chicken and broccoli bake
Slightly adapted from Sealtest
Preparation Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Serves: about 6 servings
Ingredients:
- 4 cups (1 L) cooked chopped broccoli
- 4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and sliced or cubed
- 1/4 cup (50 ml) butter
- 1/4 cup (50 ml) all-purpose flour
- 2 packets (4.5 g each) chicken stock powder (I used OXO)
- 2 cups (500 ml) homogenized milk
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
- 1.5 cups (375 ml) grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Paprika to taste
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Put broccoli in 9” (23 cm) square baking dish. Arrange chicken slices on top. 
To make the sauce:
Make a roux: melt butter in saucepan. Add flour, stirring until smooth. Gradually add bouillon cubes, milk, mustard and dried herbs. Heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened.
Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour evenly over chicken. Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.
Serve over your favourite starch!

Weeknight dinner: Cheesy chicken and broccoli bake

Have you ever actually made one of the recipes that is on the back of a milk carton? I had not until just recently, when an abundance of leftover 3% milk was sitting in my fridge begging for a purpose. I had bought it for when my niece was visiting, and it had ended up not being completely used while she was here.

I had no idea what to use it for, as neither the husband and I would drink it straight up, and since I no longer take milk in my coffee, I couldn’t use it in that way. So when I noticed the recipe for a cheesy chicken and broccoli bake right on the carton, I thought, why not?

The result was comfort food heaven! A rich, cheesy sauce coated the chicken and broccoli  to make for a hearty and comforting dinner. We served it over a bed of rice to help absorb the extra sauce.

*********************************************************************************

Cheesy chicken and broccoli bake

Slightly adapted from Sealtest

Preparation Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Serves: about 6 servings

Ingredients:

- 4 cups (1 L) cooked chopped broccoli

- 4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and sliced or cubed

- 1/4 cup (50 ml) butter

- 1/4 cup (50 ml) all-purpose flour

- 2 packets (4.5 g each) chicken stock powder (I used OXO)

- 2 cups (500 ml) homogenized milk

- 1 tbsp (15 ml) Dijon mustard

- 1 tsp dried Italian herbs

- 1.5 cups (375 ml) grated sharp cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Paprika to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Put broccoli in 9” (23 cm) square baking dish. Arrange chicken slices on top. 

To make the sauce:

Make a roux: melt butter in saucepan. Add flour, stirring until smooth. Gradually add bouillon cubes, milk, mustard and dried herbs. Heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened.

Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour evenly over chicken. Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.

Serve over your favourite starch!

Filed under food recipe sealtest milk broccoli chicken cheese cheddar roux dinner supper Sealtest agropur easy cheesy rich comfort food

6 notes

Weekend dinner: Cilantro and lime marinated chicken fajita kebabs

The husband and I are loving kebabs this summer! They have been an easy, delicious and quick weeknight meal for us to simply put together and toss on the grill. So far this summer we have kept things simple, which has allowed for us to be able to whip them up so quickly, so recently I decided we needed a bit of a flavour punch for the meat. I was thinking a marinade for the meat would be the perfect way to spice things up. I found this recipe on one of my favourite foodie sites, Serious Eats, and decided to give it a whirl.

If you want to save time and make kebabs on a busy weeknight, with a little bit of prep, making kebabs is a breeze. I like to cut up my veggies (usually bell pepper and onion) into 1 inch pieces in advance to save some time. As well, I get my wooden skewers soaking in the morning, and let them soak all day. You don’t have to do this but I find it really helps to prevent the skewers from burning up. All they really need is a good half-hour soak in some cool water, and you can soak them leading up to dinner time if that works better for you. I like to lay them out on a cookie sheet and add water until they float a little bit. Then I use a heavy mug to press them down into the water until they are completely submerged.

For this particular recipe, due to the timing of the marinade (the recipe indicates to marinate the meat anywhere from 1 to 5 hours), we decided to try it on a weekend so as not to over-marinate the chicken. The result was amazing! The chicken was tender and jam packed with flavour from the cilantro and lime.

I followed the recipe exactly as noted on Serious Eats except for that we used boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of thighs, so click here to head on over to their site for the recipe. Happy kebab-ing!

Filed under food dinner supper kebab kebabs chicken recipe cilantro lime Serious Eats bbq barbeque

3 notes

Weekend dinner: homemade flour tortillas and slow cooker pineapple pulled pork

After making homemade corn tortillas for the first time a while back (see here), I decided it was time to try making homemade flour tortillas. If I had a preference I would say that I personally prefer the real corn tortillas - I grew up on flour tortillas and I just like the different flavour and texture of the corn tortillas. But the husband is a big fan of flour tortillas (especially the ones like from Lonestar Texas Grill here in Ottawa), so we got to work to give them our best effort.

I figured that making the tortillas would be fairly simple, but I didn’t realize the many recipe variations that existed, especially when it comes to choosing the third key ingredient in the tortilla recipe: the fat/oil. From lard to bacon fat to many different types of oils, there are many variations. I researched a number of flour tortilla recipes online, but finally settled on the one from the lovely Table for Two blog (click here to link to her site and see her recipe). I liked that she used vegetable oil, which was a simple ingredient and something that I already had on hand. I followed the recipe exactly as written in her blog post, and the tortillas were amazing! We ended up freezing about half of the batch of tortillas for a future use, and I can tell you that they froze very well.

What better way to use your newly made delicious homemade tortillas than to stuff them with some delicious pulled pork? After our trip to Miami earlier this year, we have become enamoured with tacos ‘al pastor,’ which is a Mexican dish of pork marinated in a mixture of dried chilies, spices and pineapple. We wanted to make our own take on this dish, so we concocted a recipe for herbs and spices to go with our boneless pork rib roast in the slow cooker.  It turned out great! We loved the sweetness imparted by the pineapple and the gentle hint of spice from the chipotle powder. We also added some Bullseye hickory smoke bbq sauce for a delicious smokey flavour. Below is our recipe - enjoy!

Pineapple pulled pork (our take on tacos al pastor) - serves many, many people

Ingredients:

- 1 4lb boneless pork rib roast

- 1 yellow onion, diced

- 1 398 ml can pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve juice)

For the sauce mixture:

- 1 tbsp dried oregano

- 2 tbsp brown sugar

- 1/2 tsp (or more to taste) chipotle powder

- 1/2 tsp (or more to taste) chili powder

- 1 tbsp smoked paprika

- 1 tbsp minced garlic

- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

- 3 tbsp lime juice

- 1/4 cup pineapple juice (from the can)

- 1/4 bbq sauce (we used Bullseye old west hickory smoke)

- salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Prepare your slow cooker. Lay diced onions in the bottom of the crock, and set the pork on top of the onions. Salt and pepper the pork to taste. Cover the pork with the pineapple tidbits; what you can’t fit on the pork, lay around it on the bottom on top of the onions.

Make your sauce: combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Pour over top of the pork.

Cook on low for a total of 8 hours.  At 7 hours, start shredding/pulling your pork and mix everything around so that it can cook in the juices for the last hour or so.

Serve in your flour tortillas and top with salsa, lettuce, sour cream and cilantro.

Filed under food dinner supper tortilla flour flour tortilla homemade tortilla press tacos pork pulled pork slow cooker pineapple crockpot recipe onion blog Table for Two

6 notes

Dinner at the Rex

I first went to the Rex a while back for lunch, and totally loved it (see here). I knew I had to go back to try their weekend dinners, which feature a different themed menu each Friday and Saturday nights.

The husband and I happened to stumble on a perfect night for our taste buds, which was a World Cup theme, featuring all the great flavours of South America. The weekend menu at the Rex features two appetizers, two main dishes and two desserts: the three course meal for one is $35 - a great deal for such amazing food!

Considering there is only two choices for each course, the husband and I ordered one of each and shared everything. The appetizers were the perfect start to the meal: an Albacore tuna ceviche on sweet potato chips for me, and black bean, corn and cheddar empanadas for the husband. Both were amazing!

Next were our main courses, which we shared equally. My favourite of the two was the spice rubbed chicken breast served with grilled baby red potatoes which were tossed with chorizo, goat cheese and baby spinach, all drizzled in a roasted garlic jus. The chicken was ridiculously moist and tender, and I adored the flavour that the chorizo imparted in the mixture with the potatoes and spinach. The second main course was the striploin steak served with frites and a mixture of grilled king oyster mushrooms and zucchini, all with a side of chimichurri aioli. The steak was cooked perfectly, and the frites were crispy and light. My favourite part of the steak dish was the chimichurri aioli - wow!

I couldn’t wait to taste dessert; the words ‘dark chocolate,’ ‘dulce de leche’ and ‘coffee’ all in one description make my heart (and my taste buds) sing. Obviously my favourite dessert of the two was the dark chocolate cake with dulce de leche frosting and coffee ice cream. The cake was rich and moist, and the frosting and ice cream added sweetness to counter the gentle bitterness of the dark chocolate. I also enjoyed the second dessert, a rum and strawberry sorbet with candied lime zest and fresh mint; it was like an explosion of fresh flavours on the tongue.

Overall, we had a great time at the Rex for dinner.  Service was excellent and attentive, and while the portions are a tad on the small side, we both left feeling full. We can’t wait to go back!

Filed under food dinner supper Ottawa restaurant Little Italy appetizer main course dessert review chicken steak tuna tartare empanadas The Rex tuna ceviche black bean cheddar corn potato chorizo chocolate dark chocolate sorbet strawberry mint lime coffee ice cream

5 notes

Weeknight dinner: roasted salmon and asparagus with quinoa 
With a beautiful piece of salmon sitting pretty in my fridge last week, I looked to Martha Stewart for some recipe inspiration. I also had some fresh asparagus, which I knew would pair well with the salmon. 
After finding this recipe on Martha Stewart’s website, I got to work. Martha’s recipe says to pair the salmon and asparagus with couscous, but all I had was quinoa, so I made that instead.  This dinner came together very quickly, and was delicious in a simple and fresh way.  
Roasted salmon and asparagus with quinoa - slightly adapted from Martha Stewart (click on my photo to link to the original recipe)
Serves 2 with leftovers
Ingredients
For the salmon:
- one small to medium piece of salmon (I used a piece from which I was able to cut four portions like the one in my photo)
- 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 to 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (I find this oil very strong - use to taste)
- 1 lb fresh asparagus, washed and woody ends trimmed
For the quinoa:
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- lemon juice to taste
Directions
Make quinoa according to package instructions.  Set aside.  Right before serving, drizzle with lemon juice and add cilantro and mix.
Whisk together the soy sauce, lemon juice and sesame oil in a bowl. Preheat your broiler.  On a foil-lined baking sheet, lay out your salmon and asparagus.  Brush the soy sauce mixture on the asparagus, and then on the salmon.  Broil until desired doneness (until the asparagus is tender and the salmon is opaque) about 6-8 minutes.
Serve with quinoa and a lemon wedge for extra freshness if desired!

Weeknight dinner: roasted salmon and asparagus with quinoa 

With a beautiful piece of salmon sitting pretty in my fridge last week, I looked to Martha Stewart for some recipe inspiration. I also had some fresh asparagus, which I knew would pair well with the salmon. 

After finding this recipe on Martha Stewart’s website, I got to work. Martha’s recipe says to pair the salmon and asparagus with couscous, but all I had was quinoa, so I made that instead.  This dinner came together very quickly, and was delicious in a simple and fresh way.  

Roasted salmon and asparagus with quinoa - slightly adapted from Martha Stewart (click on my photo to link to the original recipe)

Serves 2 with leftovers

Ingredients

For the salmon:

- one small to medium piece of salmon (I used a piece from which I was able to cut four portions like the one in my photo)

- 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

- 2 tbsp lemon juice

- 1/2 to 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (I find this oil very strong - use to taste)

- 1 lb fresh asparagus, washed and woody ends trimmed

For the quinoa:

- 1/2 cup quinoa

- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

- lemon juice to taste

Directions

Make quinoa according to package instructions.  Set aside.  Right before serving, drizzle with lemon juice and add cilantro and mix.

Whisk together the soy sauce, lemon juice and sesame oil in a bowl. Preheat your broiler.  On a foil-lined baking sheet, lay out your salmon and asparagus.  Brush the soy sauce mixture on the asparagus, and then on the salmon.  Broil until desired doneness (until the asparagus is tender and the salmon is opaque) about 6-8 minutes.

Serve with quinoa and a lemon wedge for extra freshness if desired!

Filed under food dinner supper salmon recipe Martha Stewart asparagus broil quinoa cilantro easy quick soy sauce lemon lemon juice sesame sesame oil healthy roast

6 notes

Weeknight supper: grilled chicken cordon bleu
Lately I have been really inspired by Food Network Chef Bobby Flay’s BBQ Addiction television show.  In this show, Bobby cooks up a variety of dishes using nothing but his various grills: gas, charcoal, etc. His creativity is inspiring!
After seeing a few episodes of this show, I decided to check out the Food Network’s website to find some of the recipes that I saw on the show. While I don’t feel confident enough yet in my bbqing skills to throw huge slabs of meat on the grill for hours at a time, I came across this simple recipe for grilled chicken cordon bleu. This isn’t the most healthy way to spice up a boneless skinless chicken breast, but it is certainly delicious!  
Both the husband and I really loved this recipe! By grilling the chicken, you get the delicious flavours of the bbq, and topping it with proscuitto and Swiss cheese adds a lot of flavour. Last but not least, squeezing the grilled lemon over the whole thing just adds the most amazing burst of freshness and zing!
Grilled chicken cordon bleu - adapted slightly from Bobby Flay’s BBQ Addiction/Food Network
Serves 4
Ingredients
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (they will cook more quickly)
- 4 slices proscuitto
- 4 slices Swiss cheese
- 2 lemons, cut in half
- fresh chives
- salt and pepper
- cooking spray
Directions
Heat your grill to high.  Spray the chicken breasts with cooking spray, and season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken until cooked through. Put on your lemon halves and grill until charred.  
Once the chicken is done, top each with one piece of proscuitto and one slice of Swiss cheese.  Close the lid for about half a minute or until the cheese melts gently. 
Remove from grill.  Top with chopped chives and squeeze the grilled lemon over the top.  We served ours with grilled asparagus and my husband’s mashed potatoes.

Weeknight supper: grilled chicken cordon bleu

Lately I have been really inspired by Food Network Chef Bobby Flay’s BBQ Addiction television show.  In this show, Bobby cooks up a variety of dishes using nothing but his various grills: gas, charcoal, etc. His creativity is inspiring!

After seeing a few episodes of this show, I decided to check out the Food Network’s website to find some of the recipes that I saw on the show. While I don’t feel confident enough yet in my bbqing skills to throw huge slabs of meat on the grill for hours at a time, I came across this simple recipe for grilled chicken cordon bleu. This isn’t the most healthy way to spice up a boneless skinless chicken breast, but it is certainly delicious!  

Both the husband and I really loved this recipe! By grilling the chicken, you get the delicious flavours of the bbq, and topping it with proscuitto and Swiss cheese adds a lot of flavour. Last but not least, squeezing the grilled lemon over the whole thing just adds the most amazing burst of freshness and zing!

Grilled chicken cordon bleu - adapted slightly from Bobby Flay’s BBQ Addiction/Food Network

Serves 4

Ingredients

- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (they will cook more quickly)

- 4 slices proscuitto

- 4 slices Swiss cheese

- 2 lemons, cut in half

- fresh chives

- salt and pepper

- cooking spray

Directions

Heat your grill to high.  Spray the chicken breasts with cooking spray, and season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken until cooked through. Put on your lemon halves and grill until charred.  

Once the chicken is done, top each with one piece of proscuitto and one slice of Swiss cheese.  Close the lid for about half a minute or until the cheese melts gently. 

Remove from grill.  Top with chopped chives and squeeze the grilled lemon over the top.  We served ours with grilled asparagus and my husband’s mashed potatoes.

Filed under food dinner supper chicken bbq grilled chicken proscuitto swiss swiss cheese lemon grilled lemon recipe Food Network Bobby Flay

3 notes

Dinner at Aperitivo

It has been a while since the husband and I had been to Aperitivo, a great spot for delicious eats in our own back yard.  We decided to take a chance and go for an early dinner sans reservation one recent Friday night, and we lucked out and got a table.

Aperitivo changes their menu often enough so that you will never get tired of their offerings. Everything is quite creative and will leave your tastebuds begging for more!

We decided to do our usual and share a few plates, and rich and earthy seemed to be the theme for us that night. I started with the bone marrow and escargots appetizer, which was three bone halves with the succulent marrow waiting to be devoured, plus a handful of escargots scattered on top.  This was a very unique dish, and I was glad I went out on a limb to try it: but it is not for the faint of heart.  It was incredibly rich!

The husband and I shared the braised beef shoulder with fried Brussels sprouts and cauliflower puree, which was amazing. The beef was perfectly tender, and the sprouts and cauliflower made rich with earthy flavours.  We also shared the beef tostadas, which came topped with chimichurri sauce and sheep’s milk feta.  Wow! These bite-sized tostadas were fantastic, and the edible flowers made for beautiful presentation.

I ended my meal with a cappuccino, and we both sat back and relaxed and enjoyed our Friday evening out. I can’t wait to see what Aperitivo has planned for their summer menu!

Filed under food dinner supper restaurant review Ottawa Kanata Aperitivo small plates tapas share beef cauliflower Brussels sprouts bone bone marrow escargots tostada

11 notes

Weeknight supper: Balsamic braised chicken and peppers

This is another dish that I made when our supposed spring weather was still not feeling very spring like.  But that has finally changed: it really feels like summer around here now, and today especially, since it is supposed to be 30 degrees out today!

But back to earlier in the spring, I was still craving warm, easy suppers like this one.  An almost one-pot dish (I cooked my couscous separately), this is one fantastic, easy and delicious weeknight supper!  I have been loving using boneless, skinless chicken thighs as a change to boneless, skinless chicken breasts lately. They have more flavour and can be just a bit more tender, which is a nice change.  As well, being slightly smaller and thinner than their breast counterparts, they cook a bit more quickly in a dish like this one, which makes them convenient.

I found this recipe on the lovely Cookin’ Canuck blog, and you can click here to link to her site to view the recipe.  I followed it pretty much as written, but my chicken thighs were quite large (length-wise), and I purchased a package of 6 (the recipe calls for 8) so I played with the amounts of liquid a little bit to adjust for my ingredients.  As well, I found it difficult to fit the 6 thighs that I had in my pan, so you might have to adjust (or use 2 pans) depending on the largest size of pan you own.

Both the husband and I loved this dish; the flavours were fantastic and bright, and it was hearty.  We served ours over Israeli couscous, but you could eat it as is, serve it over pasta, over rice, over regular couscous - basically whatever you like!

Filed under food dinner supper chicken recipe blog Cookin' Canuck Dara Michalski peppers bell pepper balsamic vinegar braised braise cook cooking easy quick one pot chicken thigh tomato herb

12 notes

Weeknight supper: Tex mex pasta bake

Since it took so long for spring to finally make its way to Ottawa, I was still making cold weather-esque meals up until quite recently, including this tex mex style pasta bake.  I came across the recipe for this tasty, hearty dish on the lovely Pink Parsley blog, and you can link to her original recipe here

I made a few tweaks to the recipe, so I have included it below to reflect my changes.  Both the husband and I enjoyed this dish, but would probably not make it too often as it is pretty heavy.  Best saved for a bitter cold, blustery winter’s night!

Tex Mex Pasta Bake - serves 4

Slightly adapted from Pink Parsley

Ingredients

- 1 Tbsp olive oil

- 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped into small pieces

- 3 cloves garlic, minced

- 2 Tbsp chili powder

- 2 tsp cumin

- 1/2 tsp paprika

- 1/2 to 1 tsp chipotle powder (depending on how spicy you prefer)

- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

- 1 lb extra lean ground beef

- 2 cups water

- 1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce (I used Farm Boy Passata)

- 8 oz (about 2 cups) small shell pasta

- 1 cup frozen corn

- 1/2 a 4.5 oz can chopped green chilies, drained (or use the whole can, but beware - these are spicy!)

- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

- 1 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Avocado, sour cream, and/or hot sauce for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the ground beef, and cook until just about no longer pink.  Add the onion, bell pepper, and green chilies and sauté until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. 

Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, chipotle powder and salt (optional) and pepper to taste.  Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 

Stir in the water, tomato sauce, pasta and corn.  Increase heat, cover, and bring to a vigorous simmer.  Stirring frequently, cook until the pasta is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

While the mixture is simmering, spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Once the pasta mixture is finished, spread about half the mixture into the dish.  Top with half the cheese and 1 tbsp of the cilantro.  Add the remaining pasta mixture and top with the rest of the cheese and another 1 tbsp of the cilantro.  Put the dish in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, browned, and bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.  

Cool 10 minutes, sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of cilantro, and serve with desired toppings (sour cream, avocado, a squeeze of lime juice).

Filed under food dinner supper recipe blog Pink Parsley pasta tomato tomato sauce cheese tex mex skillet corn chipotle chili powder bake pasta bake cilantro easy hearty

7 notes

Abuela’s Cuban Kitchen, South Beach, Miami, Florida: Round 2

After our first delicious meal at Abuela’s (see here), we were keen to return to try out the more casual, diner-esque side of the restaurant, and to have a Cuban sandwich, of course!

We chose to sit at the counter, and were promptly greeted and happily helped by a number of staff. That was one thing we noticed during both of our experiences at Abuela’s - the servers are so friendly and happy to make your meal the best it can be! For example, the husband wanted to try another traditional Cuban/Latin American soda/pop after having tried Ironbeer and liking it and was hoping the server could make a recommendation.  Our server suggested Jupina, a pineapple flavoured pop, and it was delicious!

We decided to share the Cuban sandwich and the tamal en hoja (a classic pork tamale). The sandwich came with all of the classic ingredients including shaved ham, pork, pickles, mustard and swiss cheese, and it was delicious (and huge!). I wanted to try a tamale, so we ordered the tamal en hoja, which is a classic pork tamale. It was dense, dotted with chunks of salty and tender pork among the corn mixture. I have learned that I am indeed a fan of tamales! 

Sadly we did not have any room for dessert, but Abuela’s also offers a number of Cuban and other sweets to satisfy your sweet tooth. Perhaps next time!

Filed under food lunch dinner sandwich Cuban Cuban sandwich Abuela's Abuela's Cuban Kitchen tamal tamal en hoja Jupina pop soda tamale pork corn husk

4 notes

Dinner at Umami Burger, South Beach, Miami, Florida

As a person who loves to read about all things food related, I was familiar with Umami Burger, and was interested in finally getting to see for myself what all the hype was about. I live very, very far away from any Umami Burger, so while vacationing in South Beach, Miami, recently, I decided to take advantage of my close proximity to their only Florida location to give it a try.

Umami is all about the hamburgers (is that obvious?), and their simple and no-fuss menu reflects this mission. The beef that is used for the burger patties is ground in-house, and specially seasoned with ‘umami’ flavours for a unique and absolutely deliciously rich dining experience (read Umami Burger’s own description here). 

Our server was fantastic, and took the time to explain the menu and make a few recommendations. I chose the Manly Burger, which comes topped with beer-infused cheddar, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, and house ketchup and mustard spread. The husband went for the Royale Burger, which comes topped with braised beef short rib, roasted garlic aioli and their own in-house made truffle cheese. The burgers all come as is, and you have to add a side dish for an extra cost if you wish. We chose to share the smushed potatoes, which are described on their menu as double-fried creamer potatoes served with roasted garlic aioli.  Everything was amazingly delicious! Yes, they are just hamburgers, but these are seriously infused with some rich, tongue-tantalizing flavour. The beef patty really is uniquely delicious and I have never eaten a hamburger that tasted anything like it! The smushed potatoes were pretty delicious too, but the burger is quite rich as is - you really don’t need the side unless you’re really, really hungry.

Overall we really enjoyed Umami Burger: its simplicity and focus on quality ingredients and craftmanship really shine! We would not hesitate to return.

Filed under food dinner supper burger Umami Umami Burger South Beach Miami Florida SoBe Alton Road beef hamburger potatoes smushed potatoes Manly Burger The Royale Royale Burger review restaurant

84 notes

Weeknight supper: curried sweet potato soup
Here we have yet another highly successful recipe from the fantastic Toronto Star Cookbook. The author, Jennifer Bain, promises in the introduction to this recipe that it will be creamy, yet there isn’t a single drop of cream (or milk for that matter) in this soup. Let me tell you: she is right. I don’t know how, but this is the most velvety, creamy soup, and it is completely dairy free! It is amazing! It is definitely going to be my go-to root vegetable soup from now on.  The recipe is incredibly simple, but the results are wonderful.
Curried sweet potato soup - serves 4From the Toronto Star Cookbook 
Ingredients
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 cups chicken broth, homemade or store-bought, plus more if needed
- 1 tsp liquid honey
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
Directions
In a large soup/stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until softened, stirring often (about 5 minutes).
Add the sweet potatoes, 3 cups broth, curry powder, ginger and honey.  Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the sweet potatoes are tender, 3 to 40 minutes.
To blend, you can either transfer the mixture to a blender in batches or use a hand-held immersion blender (I used an immersion blender).  Puree until completely smooth.
Return to the pot to keep warm for serving.  If the soup is too thick for your taste, add a bit more stock until the desired consistency is reached (mine was great as it was).
Serve with cornbread if you like!

Weeknight supper: curried sweet potato soup

Here we have yet another highly successful recipe from the fantastic Toronto Star CookbookThe author, Jennifer Bain, promises in the introduction to this recipe that it will be creamy, yet there isn’t a single drop of cream (or milk for that matter) in this soup. Let me tell you: she is right. I don’t know how, but this is the most velvety, creamy soup, and it is completely dairy free! It is amazing! It is definitely going to be my go-to root vegetable soup from now on.  The recipe is incredibly simple, but the results are wonderful.

Curried sweet potato soup - serves 4
From the Toronto Star Cookbook 

Ingredients

- 1 tbsp vegetable oil

- 1 cup finely chopped red onion

- 1 large clove of garlic, minced

- 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

- 3 cups chicken broth, homemade or store-bought, plus more if needed

- 1 tsp liquid honey

- 1/2 tsp curry powder

- 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Directions

In a large soup/stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until softened, stirring often (about 5 minutes).

Add the sweet potatoes, 3 cups broth, curry powder, ginger and honey.  Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the sweet potatoes are tender, 3 to 40 minutes.

To blend, you can either transfer the mixture to a blender in batches or use a hand-held immersion blender (I used an immersion blender).  Puree until completely smooth.

Return to the pot to keep warm for serving.  If the soup is too thick for your taste, add a bit more stock until the desired consistency is reached (mine was great as it was).

Serve with cornbread if you like!

Filed under food soup dinner sweet potato onion honey curry powder ground ginger ginger recipe Jennifer Bain Toronto Star Toronto Star Cookbook cookbook root vegetable healthy lunch velvety creamy

12 notes

Dinner at Abuela’s Cuban Kitchen, South Beach, Miami, Florida

While vacationing in South Beach recently, the husband and I made a point of trying restaurants and foods that are difficult for us to find back home, one of them being Cuban food.

There were quite a few options from which to choose in terms of Cuban restaurants, but we decided on Abuela’s Cuban Kitchen, which is just a few steps off the busy Lincoln Road Mall.  Abuela’s is quite the big establishment with both a formal/fine dining sit down area and a take-out window/eat-in counter.  

As we entered the restaurant (we decided to dine in the formal area) we were promptly seated and well looked after by our server. We asked for some recommendations as the menu is quite large and we were unsure of what to order, and our server was very helpful.

I decided to start with a mojito, and it was delightful! It came served with a big stick of sugarcane, which I thought was really cool and interesting.  The husband really wanted to try some sort of traditional Cuban pop, so the server recommended an Ironbeer.  We were completely unfamiliar with this drink, and when the can arrived (see above), the husband wasn’t sure what it was. But then he took a sip and loved it! It is basically described as a spicy-flavoured cola (along the lines of a Dr. Pepper).  It was definitely interesting and something that we both won’t forget that we tried!

For my main, I decided on the ropa vieja, which was a shredded beef in a tomato sauce.  For my sides, I went with the fried plantains (tostones) and the black beans and rice.  The husband chose the roast pork, and had mashed potatoes and the sweet fried plantains as his sides.  We shared everything on our plates and we both agreed that it was a delicious (and super filling) meal!  We especially loved the ropa vieja for its tender texture and the sweet fried plantains, as they are not something we get to eat, well, ever!

I would definitely recommend checking out Abuela’s if you’re in South Beach and are craving some Cuban cuisine.  The service was great, the prices were reasonable, and the food was delicious!

Filed under food dinner restaurant Abulela Abuela's Cuban Kitchen Miami Florida South Beach SoBe Lincoln Road Lincoln Road Mall Cuban cuisine review pork beef plaintain mojito beans rice Ironbeer ropa vieja lechon asado roast pork

5 notes

Weeknight supper: cocoa sloppy joes
In continuing to cook my way through Jennifer Bain’s Toronto Star Cookbook, I have realized that I love this cookbook! The recipes are simple but also interesting and totally, lip-smackingly delicious.
In honour of Sloppy Joe Day on March 18, I took a chance on Jennifer’s cocoa sloppy joes, which, I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about. Cocoa in beef? But it was delicious! The meat was moist and the flavours were unique.
Cocoa sloppy joes - from the Toronto Star Cookbook
Serves 4
Ingredients - 1 lb extra lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 4 buns of your choice
DIrections
In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup, cocoa powder, chili powder, mustard, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, and cook onion and ground beef until beef is browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain off any fat if necessary.
Reduce the heat to low and stir the ketchup mixture into the beef mixture, and let cook, stirring often, for 5 to 10 minutes.
Toast the buns lightly and divide the meat evenly among the buns.  We added some and sliced pickles to our buns for extra texture and flavour. Enjoy!

Weeknight supper: cocoa sloppy joes

In continuing to cook my way through Jennifer Bain’s Toronto Star Cookbook, I have realized that I love this cookbook! The recipes are simple but also interesting and totally, lip-smackingly delicious.

In honour of Sloppy Joe Day on March 18, I took a chance on Jennifer’s cocoa sloppy joes, which, I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about. Cocoa in beef? But it was delicious! The meat was moist and the flavours were unique.

Cocoa sloppy joes - from the Toronto Star Cookbook

Serves 4

Ingredients
- 1 lb extra lean ground beef

- 1/2 cup ketchup

- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

- 1 tbsp chili powder

- 1 tbsp yellow mustard

- 1/2 tsp salt

- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper

- 1 small yellow onion, chopped

- 4 buns of your choice

DIrections

In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup, cocoa powder, chili powder, mustard, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, and cook onion and ground beef until beef is browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain off any fat if necessary.

Reduce the heat to low and stir the ketchup mixture into the beef mixture, and let cook, stirring often, for 5 to 10 minutes.

Toast the buns lightly and divide the meat evenly among the buns.  We added some and sliced pickles to our buns for extra texture and flavour. Enjoy!

Filed under food beef recipe cocoa dinner supper Jennifer Bain sloppy joes sandwich hot sandwich