Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2014

We are getting ready to close out 2014 and start a New Year, for which I'm grateful and full of anticipation.  2014 was........    I don't really know how to describe what 2014 was. 

Busy.  2014 was busy.  lol.  Or whatever.

Are you interested to know which 10 posts you looked at the most? Let's count them down from the bottom to the top.  (yes - I just referenced one of the most popular songs of 2014)

10.  Buttery Honey Beer Bread

Yum.  This quick bread is sweet, savory, and perfect for sopping up stew or soup, or slathering in butter.  The edges are a little crisp - but the inside is a big, soft, crumb. 


You guys.  This soup.  It is so full of cheese and beer that I can barely stand it.  It's creamy, rich, and totally amazing.  Seriously - it's so worth it.  And don't knock the popcorn.  It's weird, but it totally works.

I know it's a little weird. But it's different and sweet and savory and fun!  But for real - don't put it on a whole wheat crust.  Unless you're into that kind of thing.  God that lighting was terrible.  I hate high efficiency bulbs. 


7. Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers

OMG.  I try soooo hard to eat healthy, but I HATE it when it's boring.  These are NOT boring.  Flavorful and juicy - chockfull of delicious stuff.  They kinda make me "like" healthy food.


Woo!  Another "healthy" recipe, that I could actually get behind and insist on having in my kitchen!  Doesn't it look creamy and sinful?  It's really not. 


Oh boy.  I'm so in love with this pasta.  I love the creamy decadence.  I love the pasta.  I love the shrimp!  Perfect for impressing visiting company - or that special someone in your life.  Or if you just want to treat yourself.  I find that it thickens after it's been sitting for a bit - so let it stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

4. Garlicky Mashed Potatoes

I'm a MAJOR comfort food junkie.  It makes me wildly happy.  These potatoes are no exception.  Full of garlic, cheesy, creamy, and topped with crispy French fried onions - it's the perfect side for when you don't have any gravy and just need something a little different.  Like with ham.  Or meatloaf.  Or Swiss steak.  Whatever your heart desires.

3.  Root Beer Float Cream Pie

When I first started following food blogs, I had no idea about all the "stuff" we can't buy here in Canada.  Biscoff, root beer concentrate, bottled key lime juice, Pilsbury Funfetti cake mix.....  The list is very long.  I brought home root beer concentrate from Florida when I'd been there on a trip with my Mom.  I've made a few things already (the guys I work with are slaves for the Root Beer Float Cookies!), but this Root Beer Float Cream Pie is out of this world delightful.  Dress it up with Maraschino cherries and you've got a winner dessert on your hands that even root beer non-fans will gobble up.  I LOVE this pie.  The only thing is....  You really need root beer concentrate to make it.  Sorry 'bout that.  You can do it without - but I don't think the flavour will be as good.


This recipe rolled around and around and around on Pinterest.  And when I finally decided to make it, it was absolutely awesome.  Sweet, smoky, tender.  Perfect on egg noodles or rice.  It's been added to my all-time favorite chicken recipes.  Also - it's so easy I could cry.  It was gobbled up by my 4-year old niece, and her Dad too.  Just keep an eye on the red pepper flakes.  If you get too carried away, it'll be too spicy!

And the number 1 most visited recipe for 2014 is.......  Creamy Italian Chicken

This recipe was one I looked at and looked at.  Hummed and hawed.  And decided to give it a whirl.  There's always a frozen pizza in the fridge if it's terrible.  Turns out - it wasn't actually terrible!  Although I thought it desperately needed some color.  Like - if you stirred in peas at the end.  Or added some parsley.  Or whatever.  I served it over rice, but had it on buns the next day and it was perfectly delightful as a hot sandwich!

And there you have it!  Your top 10 of 2014! 

Thank you so much for a wonderful and amazing year!  Best of luck to you and yours in this coming New Year!

xoxo - Heather

PS - stay tuned for MY Top 10 favorites of 2014.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Lobster Risotto

I've always been slightly freaked out by risotto.

Because I've always been under the impression that it is super-complicated and intensive and difficult and could possibly bring me to tears.

I have been so, SO wrong.

It's surprisingly easy - but it does require attention.  So you need to be ready to hang out with it while you're cooking it.

But this recipe?  I promise.  It's worth it.


Here's what you'll need.

The first thing to do is to remove the lobster meat from the shells (remove the vein), and drop the shells into combined chicken broth and water and bring to a simmer.

At this point, you're also supposed to blanch the green beans - but I don't have any pictures of that.  Because I forgot until the very last second.  Because risotto only requires stirring muscles and my brain basically thought "add a scoop of broth, stir until gone.  Repeat." And I couldn't really think about anything beyond that.
It was like the most delicious meditation ever.
Okay.  Now the lobster shells are simmered and the beans are blanched.  Remove the lobster shells from the pot and toss 'em.  Keep the (now) lobster stock in the pot on the burner on very low heat.  I'm told it absorbs better if the stock is warm.
Set aside the green beans. 
In a small bowl, rub and crush/crumble the saffron threads between your fingers and drop into a bowl.  Add 1/2 cup of the broth.
In a post a bazillion years ago, I talked about how you would see the saffron "bloom".  I believe I even mentioned that I didn't really understand what that meant and I just kind of winged it.
After this, I understand what "blooming" looks like.  It's actually quite beautiful.  This picture doesn't really do it justice.

In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven, heat butter and canola oil over medium-high heat.  Add the shallots and cook until translucent.

Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat the grains with the oil and butter mixture.

Add in the white wine and cook until the wine is evaporated - or absorbed by the rice.  I'm not really sure what happens here.
But make sure you stir and stir and stir.

Then start adding the stock.  1/4 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the stock is absorbed by the rice.
Here's where things get tricky.  Toni's recipe says that after 12 minutes, add in the saffron mixture.  I'm not 100% sure if this is 12 minutes from the time the rice is first added to the pan, or if it's 12 minutes from the time the shallots start cooking. 
She may be able to clear that up for you - definitely ask!  She responds really fast and is super-nice.

Isn't that saffron beautiful?  Don't forget to stir!
Oh.  Before we go any further, a question that I always had was how to know that the rice was ready for more broth.  Do you see how in the picture above, on the right-hand side of the picture the rice stays away from the side of pot?  That's how you can tell.  If you draw a spoon down the center of the rice and the rice stays apart, it's ready for more broth.  If the rice comes back together, keep stirring. 
Continue adding the broth.  Stir, stir, stir!!!
After 18 minutes, add the green beans.

Annnnd - continue to add the stock.  Stir!
At 20 minutes, check the doneness.  You'll be looking for the rice to be cooked to al dente.
If the rice is al dente, add the lobster meat.  If not, continue to add stock until al dente is reached. Use more plain chicken stock (or plain water is fine) if you run out of lobster stock.
Cook for an additional 5 minutes to cook the lobster meat through.  Stir, stir, stir!!!
Turn off the heat and stir in butter and Parmesan cheese until melted.

Can we just pause for a second and look at how beautiful that is?  It's gorgeous!  And somehow magically creamy?  And how I'm DROOLING just looking at this picture?

Toni calls this risotto luxurious- I totally agree.  But not heavy in the slightest.  Decadent, creamy, and full of flavor with the most exciting snap of texture from the beans - which were the perfect veggie for this risotto.
I would make this for Christmas, New Years, Father's Day, my birthday, heartbreak recovery - or heck - Tuesday night.  It's perfect for any occasion!
Toni has completely hit the mark with this one and I absolutely recommend that you visit her site and check out her incredibly gorgeous pictures of this dish (mine do her absolutely no justice!), and try out her divine recipe.
Oh!  Make sure your pan is big enough to hold all that amazing risotto - mine was just BARELY big enough.
Thank you Toni for such a wonderful recipe!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Wild Mountain Bacon Cheeseburger

Quick!  Before Winter comes back!  Run outside and get in one last BBQ!  Have this sauce on your burgers!!!  It's a sunny day in Cold Lake - gotta get out there while you can!

(Unless you're not like me and you BBQ all year long.  I personally don't really feel the need to BBQ when it's 30 degrees below 0 Celcius)

Here's something you may or may not know about me.  I worked part time at Wendy's for about 3 years.

No really - I was the late-night, drive-thru princess.  The second year (I'm pretty sure - it's kind of a blur) I was there they brought out these Wild Mountain Bacon Cheeseburgers as one of the special-type burgers they do.

OMG.  It was my favorite.  It's STILL my favorite and they don't make them anymore.  It was the saddest November of my Foodie-life when they didn't come back. 

And then I ran across a copy-cat claiming to be exactly the same as my beloved burger.

So - mostly in desperation - I thought I'd give it a try.

Start mixing the ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
First the mayo.

Then the spices.



Mix well to combine.  It's going to turn this pretty color.

And spread on a toasted bun and mash it on top of a grilled patty with cheese, bacon, and lettuce.  If you can get it - I recommend a slice of Colby-Jack marble cheese, but we can't get it, so I just used regular marbled cheese.

I honestly am sure it's pretty darn close, a fair substitute for the real deal - but maybe not 100% the exact same. 
It's also a nice change from the ordinary.  Seriously.  A girl can only take so many burgers with ketchup and/ or mayo on them.
Also - you should know that I thought the flavor improved after a day or so.  So making this in advance probably would be a pretty good idea.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I have a confession.

I was totally writing this other post about how you should make this awesome burger sauce and barbecue some burgers before Winter started to Winter.

Then.  Winter.

Barbecue is OUT.

And comforting, delicious spaghetti and meatballs is IN.

So let's get started.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat then add the onions and the garlic.

After the onions are softened and translucent, add the tomato sauce.

And the crushed tomatoes.  Give both the cans a quick rinse and add the water from the cans to pot too.

Add the parsley.

And the basil.


And sugar.  Yep.  Sugar.  It's fairly common in traditional tomato sauces.  It just takes some of the tartness away from the tomatoes.  Don't worry - you'll never know it's there.

Let the sauce simmer over low heat.  Michelle recommends about two hours or so.  So you'll need to set aside a little time for the sauce to simmer.  And it'll need a stir every now and then.
When the sauce is getting into the last hour of simmering, get the meatballs ready.
Now - I did make a little mistake here.  I was only supposed to combine a little bit of the breadcrumbs and the milk - I accidentally threw in all of the breadcrumbs.  Oops.
Let just pretend I did this properly.  Combine some of the breadcrumbs with the milk and mix together.  Leave for about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the beef and the Romano cheese.

Add the garlic powder.

And the parsley.

The egg and the fresh garlic.
And the breadcrumb mixture (and the remaining breadcrumbs unless you were like me and messed up.)

Combine all together and divide into evenly sized meatballs (I used a cookie scoop).  Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Add to the sauce and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more.
Serve on top of the pasta of your choice.  I used plain old un-exciting spaghetti.

I'm not even sure how to tell you how perfect this will be for your first Fall meal. 

It's hearty without being overly rich.  The meatballs are tender and flavorful.  The sauce is thick and sticks to the pasta (just the way I LIKE it!).

It sticks to your ribs and warms you up all the way through.  Serve with breadsticks or a piece of garlic bread.

So delicious.  And Fall-like.

Welcome to Fall. 

xoxo - Heather

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Sesame Shrimp Stirfry

Once upon a time, three years ago, I wrote a post about a week that was well spent.  I golfed, relaxed, and travelled to Cold Lake to visit my brother and his family.  While I was in Cold Lake, I helped out by cooking food (surprise, surprise - lol) and this is one of the dishes I made for them.

At the time - I had no idea what I wanted to do with this blog - or how I wanted it to be.  And now I feel like I have a more clear picture of how I want to share food with you. 

'Cause I like you.

This has long been one of my favorite early/pre-blog days recipes - and I've thought of it often.

In a zippie bag, combine the ground ginger,

The cayenne pepper,

The garlic,

sesame seeds,

black pepper,

and the shrimp.  Close the baggie and squoosh the shrimp around with the spices and seeds to coat the shrimp as best you can.
Then put in the fridge and leave to marinate for about 20 minutes.
Have a glass of wine while you wait.  Or do some dishes.  Whatever floats your boat.
(I drank wine).

In a wok, or frying pan, heat the sesame oil then add the red pepper.

Then add the green onions.

Cook for a few minutes to soften, then add the teriyaki sauce.

Add in the shrimp and green peas and cook for about 4 minutes or until the shrimp are opaque.

While the shrimp is cooking, add the cornstarch to the chicken broth. Stir to combine.

Add the chicken broth mixture to the wok and cook until the liquid boils and is thickened.  Stir in the salt and serve on rice.
I LOVE this stirfry.  It's fast, flavorful, and light.  It's perfect for summer or even in the winter to make it feel like summer.
I would love at this point to suggest small changes you could make to suit it to your liking - but I can't imagine anything actually needs to be changed!  You could have it on noodles if you want.  I think those super-skinny little egg noodles would be pretty good with this!
But it's totally up to you.  I like rice.
Anyway - get into the kitchen and enjoy!
Have a fantastic weekend!  -Heather