Friday, November 30, 2012

everyday food magazine, you'll be truly missed!

I was in Florida at the beginning of the month when I heard the terrible news about Everyday Food magazine folding. Devastated, I did my best to put it right out of my mind. Just one week before the news I had just renewed my EDF subscription for next year, subscribed to MSL, as well as purchased a gift subscription of EDF for my mom (a first time subscriber but long time browser) for her birthday. Unfortunately there isn’t much I could do to change this since I bought these through my nephew’s fundraiser. But nothing takes the edge off like a swim in the pool and a Florida sunset.
Once home I considered doing what my sister and I did when the show Freaks and Geeks was on the verge of cancellation – protesting! As someone who clearly takes Everyday Food to heart as part of their daily life, I felt like it couldn’t be taken down without a fight! But somehow the idea of handing out flyers at my son’s daycare, sending out mass emails and begging on this blog probably wouldn’t help. It clearly was already a done deal and us readers didn't even get a chance to petition for its survival. But then again, how does this blog exist as not an example of how useful this publication is?! I guess in a way I did my part and now it’s time to just to accept it. But I have to admit, I never saw anything like this coming. How could something so useful, resourceful, INSPIRING unceremoniously end? I work in print, so I know that it’s going the way of the dinosaur, I get it. So, I only assumed there would be a paid digital subscription available. But as time passed I became more painfully aware that with the magazine ending, maybe even those who work so hard on it didn’t quite imagine this could happen so quickly. I only wish I knew the real story here and the reason for this. Poor ad revenue? Print and distribution costs? Whatever the reason, it just somehow doesn't seem fair. The Everyday Food kitchen are a talent group of people who help cooks like me, who’s lives are busy to the point of hectic, manage to put something delicious on the table every night with minimal effort using healthy, affordable ingredients.
I cook through back issues of Everyday Food all the time, and judging by my shelf space there really wasn’t any room for more issues anyways (sorry, my attempt in seeing something positive in all this). No, I really do feel lucky to have started subscribing 8 years ago to amass such an archive. About 95% of our dinners are Everyday Food recipes and it looks like we’ll have fun revisiting back issues. Maybe another book could be published? I just hope that in time all the wonderful recipes this group creates and shares with us loyal readers monthly will continue, if not in print, in some other way. But I know for sure I’ll be sticking with Everyday Food wherever they decide to take it from here. Thank you Everyday Food for helping me to choose healthy and fresh meal options, guiding me to discover my inspired inner home cook and shaping my family's eating habits. You will be truly missed!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

lighter italian wedding soup

When I was expecting Owen I was totally addicted to Campbell's canned Italian Wedding Soup. I'm thinking it was all the added salt that was satisfying my cravings. Luckily, I have my palate back since his arrival and this Lighter Italian Wedding Soup from Everyday Food Light is nothing like the canned version.
Using turkey in the meatballs and escarole as the green, this tomato based soup is so, so addictive! The meatballs were some of the best I've ever had! They are cooked in the simmering soup and came out so light and flavourful. I think I'd use this same meatball recipe again in the future.
I had my hesitation with escarole because it looks like green lettuce and who would ever soak a lettuce leaf? But it's very different. More similar to cabbage it's very hardy and retains its integrity when cooked. It tastes incredible in this soup and in the end I'd say this soup has a similar flavour to cabbage rolls. Glad my first experience with cooked escarole was so positive because I'd never subsitute spinach in this soup again.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

lighter french onion soup

I'm no French Onion Soup afficiaiato. Come to think of it, I love almost all french onion soup I've tried as long as it has a caramelized onion & beefy flavour and that delicious swiss crouton topping. That's why this version of Lighter French Onion Soup from Everyday Food Light was right up my alley.
To start, it was easy-peasy to make, however time consuming. But apart from that it was well worth the time spent (I mean, you really do need to get those onions caramelized and there is no short-cut on that step). It was not so generous with the bread and cheese but I didn't miss it. Because our bagette was so great and the gruyere - was, well, gruyere(!), it was just amazing. It was actually a nice balance between the soup and bread. I think I'd honestly contiune to go to this recipe in the future when a craving for French Onion soup hits.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Owen's 3rd birthday - toy story party with rex cake

This year Owen chose his own party theme and wanted a Toy Story party.
Toy Story Party
At first the idea seemed so perfect having one of the little green aliens with the three fingers and three eyes as his birthday cake. But back in August when we asked Owen what kind of cake he wanted he proclaimed, "A Rex Cake!". And his mind was made up. Luckily Nuno was able to devise a way of making a seated Rex.
 Nuno sculpted the head, tail and legs out of foam then the entire cake was covered in fondant.
High side profile Rex Cake
The cake was 7 layers of vanilla cake with chocolate filling. He was smoothed with a crumb coat of chocolate fudge and then covered in fondant.
Rex Cake Layers
This year we stuck to a family party since we have an ever growing group of first cousins. We focused on creating a menu around the idea of the characters in the Toy Story movies.
Toy Story Party
Toy Story Party
Toy Story Party
Toy Story Party
Toy Story Party
Toy Story Party
Toy Story Party
Toy Story Party
Toy Story Party
Toy Story Party

The party was fun and tasty. And just in case you didn't believe that Rex was actually edible, here he is as a Cake (w)Rex.
(W)rex Cake

Friday, November 23, 2012

chicken parm meatballs

Here is the perfect Friday night dinner. Looks like a genuine Italian restaurant here but it's not. It's the Chicken Parm Meatballs from Everyday Food October 2012 and they are out of this world!
Each serving is a quarter pound of seasoned ground chicken with a melty-gooey interior of mozzarella cheese. The culmination of two amazing pasta dinners (meatballs and chicken parm) but is 100% flavour of chicken parmesan. It really is an epiphany. It was fun to make (and I say that only if you're the cooking type because if you aren't this is a lot of work). But the results are so worth it in the end. We all loved this dinner and it's definitely one we are anxiously awaiting to make again.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

pepperoni pasta bake

The October 2012 issue of Everyday Food magazine had a whole lot of really interesting recipes. I've gone back to it several times and continue to want to try different ones. One in particular that I passed over to only try later is the Pepperoni Pasta Bake. I think it was the word pepperoni that turned me off, but then on a recent grocery trip in the US I found sliced pepperonis and decided to give this a whirl.
These are ricotta and zucchini stuffed shells covered in marinara and topped with pepperoni slices. And it is awesome! We all really enjoyed it. The grated zucchini not only adds a vegetable to this dinner (practically undetectable) but makes the ricotta filling go further. Then the topping of pepperoni crisps up baked and adds so much flavour! I had so much fun making this dinner.
This is a very family friendly dinner and a total keeper.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

one-pot curried cauliflower rice

And in the final trial of the 'Better For You Bakes' from October 2011 we tried the One-Pot Curried Cauliflower Rice.
Now, this is a dinner one after my own heart. I love - love roasted cauliflower with spices like papirika and curry. Then using something like rice or couscous carries the flavor. The addition of chickpeas helps add protien and make this casserole eat like a meal.
Super quick, super easy and great flavour. This was my favourite of all the bakes in this particular issue. That said, each one were fantastic.

Monday, November 19, 2012

turkey and stuffing bake

We tried another 'Better For You Bakes' from the October 2011 issue of Everyday Food magazine. This time it was the Turkey and Stuffing Bake. I love the idea of all the flavours of Thanksgiving without the work. Using ground turkey, dried cranberries, sage, onions and celery; this is a delicious stuffing casserole. It tastes decadent but compared to a Thanksgiving dinner this is very light.
Although in the dish and on the plate it isn't the most appetizing looking dinner, it really is totally unique and something we'd make again. However we found it a little soggy. If we were to give this one another shot I'd hold back on the amount of stock and keeping an eye on it as it bakes.

Friday, November 16, 2012

fall leaves

We have a lot of mature trees in our neighbourhood. Behind Owen is our front yard which has a giant maple that dumps all at once covering our yard with a blanket of crisp yellow leaves.
With the warm days we've been having recently we decided to play in the leaves.
We never rake into bags because the leaves always get blown up the street. We learned this the hard way our first year of home ownership only after a friendly neighbour advised after standing watching me rake & bag the entire front & back yard.
We raked giant piles of leaves and had lots of fun.

Even Hot Tot got into the action.
And went wild!

The End.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

chicken enchilada casserole

Flipping through some of my back issues of Everyday Food magazine I stumbled up on the October 2011 issue and found a collection of recipes titled 'Better for you Bakes'. Basically, they are all light casseroles using broths in place of cream and lean proteins cutting fat and calories. I love the simplicity of these sort of meals this time of year. They usually last 2 meals so to make a batch and then get a night off is a rare luxury.
So to start we made the Chicken Enchilada Casserole. Using the leftover chicken from the previous night's dinner and store bought green salsa (since tomatillos aren't readily available in our grocery stores) this was a very quick assembly. We used a lot of extra green salsa to prevent it from drying out since corn tortillas can really soak up the moisture. Served with sour cream this was a dinner we all really enjoyed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

roasted chicken breasts with carrots and onions

Wow, I feel like it's been ages since I picked up the Everyday Food Great Food Fast cookbook. It's good to take the time and look back through. This book has some of the best bone-in skin-on chicken breast recipes and it's because of this book that I got turned on to eating chicken this way roasted in the oven. It's now my favourite way of enjoying chicken!
This recipe is great, we all really enjoyed it. The one different thing about this dinner is the addition of prunes. Yes, prunes! They rehydrate and soak in the flavours of the other ingredients, the sweetness of the carrots and onions. Actually, the onions and prunes somehow meld in flavour, both adding a wonderful sweetness that Owen gobbled right up. The couscous rounded out the meal and absorbed all the flavour rendered from the roasted chicken & veg.

Monday, November 12, 2012

turning 3

On November 14th of this week Owen will be turning 3 years old! We'll be celebrating on the day of his birthday but his big birthday party is not for another couple weeks.
While on vacation Nuno mailed out all the invitations.
Owen chose to have a Toy Story themed party and even chose his cake. So stay tuned for all the party dets. in the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

ted peter's smoked fish and other Tampa coast food haunts

There are so many reasons I love our trips to the Tampa coast of Florida. I should begin by sharing that we found this particular area when I was only a few months old. My parents were driving the coastline from Clearwater to St. Petersburg when I became fussy and they pulled over in Treasure Island. They went back to Canada and told everyone about the hidden jem they discovered. Since then my grandparents spent their winters here and in total over a hundred different Canadians have vacationed here because of the word of mouth. My grandparents loved to tell the story about how Erin discovered their spot.
But, you know, it's nice to revisit vacation spots because you get to know what to pack, how to spend your time and the familiarity of people and places is always welcoming. We actually have several foodie haunts we never miss while on vacation I wanted to share.
While in Florida I always, always get a grouper sandwich. Can't say I've ever seen grouper in the grocery stores in Niagara, but it's plentiful and fresh where we stay. I only indulge in one because it's not the most sustainable fish and it also has a high level of mercury, but once a year is alright with me. This one I had at Keegan's in Indian Rocks Beach and is served blackened. LOVE IT!
I enjoy many other items such as key lime pie and almost all my dinners are some sort of fresh seafood.
Not too far from where we stay is Ted Peter's Famous Smoked Fish. This is an institution along the Tampa coast. This restaurant smokes local fish (mullet, mackerel, mahi mahi and salmon) on racks of smoldering red oak.
The taste is really smokey and totally delicious. I bought a pound of mahi mahi because I didn't want to have to deal with bones and was looking for a milder flavour. It was my lunch on top of a bagel with cream cheese.
We always visit a local market called The Orange Blossom to get our citrus. Usually Fall Glo Tangerines are ripe and juicy from the groves during our stay. Owen still only drinks water and milk. We allow him apple juice boxes once in a while, but are pretty careful to not allow him too much fruit juice (since he eats all these fruits fresh I feel that's a more nutritious option anyways). But I wanted his first sip of orange juice to be in Florida. And... he didn't like it! What he did enjoy was fresh lemonade. Go figure!
The Orange Blossom makes fresh ice cream made from the orange juice. Owen opted for the pumpkin chocolate swirl this year instead of dreamsicle flavour.
And, there are the cuban sandwiches which you can expect to hear me gush about, but the Floridian is such a wonderful place to get a taste of the Tampa cubano. They also make KILLER rice and beans as well as cuban bean soup. I'm right now collecting ingredients to make my own versions of the aforementioned.

Friday, November 9, 2012

hello from florida

We're on vacation right now in Florida so I thought I'd share a few pics of our trip thus far.
1&2 dolphin boat cruise in Clearwater Fl. • 3,4,5,6 Bush Gardens • 7&8 The Florida Aquarium • 9 sunset view from our suite

all photos via instagram