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FOOD + DRINK

FOOD + DRINK FOR all the family

Weekly Meal Planner: Week 2

what's for dinner mushroom risotto asparagus and trout

My toddler enjoyed every meal I made for dinner last week except for the chop suey. I have the feeling that it was because of the ground beef. Instead, he savoured a bowl of the leek and carrot soup from my frozen soup supply.

Here is the list of what we ate last week: Continue Reading

FOOD + DRINK FOR all the family

Weekly Meal Planner: Week 1

weekly meal planning

I have a confession to make. I don’t plan ahead what I will make for dinner. Because I am looking at ways for finding time, I would like to change my routine. After all, planning ahead your meals would reduce my shopping time.

As a first step to change my behaviour,  I decided to chronicle what we ate every week. At least, I could save time by referring to my meal planner when comes the time to decide what’s for dinner. Plus, I could monitor more carefully what we ate. Here is what I cooked or ordered in for dinner last week. Continue Reading

COCKTAILS + wine FOOD + DRINK

Sparkling Wine and Champagne Cocktails for Your New Year’s Eve Party

new year's eve bubbly cocktails

I believe in saying goodbye to the year with a bubbly beverage. If you wish to serve something else then a straight glass of Champagne, consider these 5 sparkling wine cocktails for your celebrations.

classic champagne cocktail
photo credits: 101 Champagne Cocktails book by Kim Haasarud – visit Epicurious for the Classic Champagne cocktail recipe

Negroni Sbagliato
photo credits: Negroni sbagliato recipe at Liquor.com

new year's eve bubbly cocktails
photo credits: Prosecco-Berry Sparkler recipe at Rachel Ray| Pink Fizz recipe by Lotte Duncan via Food Network

champagne punch
photo credits: Champagne Punch recipe at Martha Stewart

Lastly, there is the Watermelon and Mint Collins that I shared last August.

They all seem tasty. I will have a hard time making a selection. Which one would you prefer to drink on New Year’s Eve?

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

My Leek, Carrot, Turnip and Celery Soup Recipe

leek, carrot, turnip and celery soup

Every few weeks, I fill up a Le Creuset Dutch oven with fresh vegetables and make a big batch of soup. I basically redo the same soup except that I change the vegetables. I usually mix vegetables that inspire me at the store with what is in my fridge. Being French means that my soup always starts with a roughly chopped mirepoix (celery, onions and carrots). Since I will puree my vegetable soup, I don’t need to be fancy on my cutting board.

This week, my soup took shape from a big pack of leeks and 3 turnips that I bought a few days before. Here is this week recipe.

Ingredients for my Leek, Carrot, Turnip and Celery Soup:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large leeks, cut
  • 3 turnips, pealed and coarsely chopped
  • 6-7 large carrots, pealed and coarsely chopped
  • 3 crisp, leafy stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
  • optional (I put it because I had one in my fridge): 1 orange pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful of minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of origano or thym
  • 1 teaspoon of savory (my favorite herb)

Step by step instructions:

  • On low to medium heat (2 on my gas stove), heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large soup pot.
  • Add the leeks, carrots and celery to pot. Cook for 5 minutes with the cover. Stir from time to time
  • Add the turnips and orange pepper. Season the vegetables with the herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Stir. Add more olive oil. Continue to cook for 12 minutes with the cover. You want the vegetables to sweat.
  • Add the chicken stock. I want the flavour to mix together, which takes about 15 minutes of cooking.
  • Puree the soup directly from the pot with an immersion blender.
  • Enjoy now and later!

In My Freezer

I let the soup cool for 30 minutes and divide it into 12 single and double portion containers. I always store the soup in the freezer. As a mom with a young child, having a homemade soup ready to serve brings me peace of mind. I reheat it on the stove or the microwave and serve it to my hungry toddler boy while I cook dinner. Some nights, I eat a bowl of soup with him.

Feel free to experiment with my soup recipe. Possible variations would be to switch the herbs for ground ginger or ground fennel. I prefer to use fat-free chicken stock but you could use water or a vegetable stock instead. Like I said at the beginning, get inspired by what is in your pantry and your fridge.

COOKBOOKS FOOD + DRINK

Free Printables: Holiday Recipe Cards

holiday recipe card printables with an handwritten recipe

holiday recipe card printables with an handwritten recipe

I am excited to share my first free printables of the holiday season. This year, I decided to design my own. I am starting with a printable project for foodies.

From cookie exchange parties to the office pot luck, the holiday season provides many occasions to share and exchange recipes. This is why it is a good idea to keep a fresh supply of ready-to-fill recipe cards. You will never be short on supply if you print your own. My holiday recipe cards are available in three patterns. Later this week, I will share the matching holiday gift tag printables.

capons and gremolata

I already found use for my batch. Last Saturday night, I attended a dinner at a friend’s home. She made a delicious squash and pear soup that she served in shooters with bacon chips. This was a hit! Several people asked her the soup recipe. She also made a delicious gremolata that she served with the capons. The next day, I wrote down her recipes into my recipe cards.

Instead of simply printing your menu for your holiday party, why not share all your recipes? The recipe cards can become a part of your tabletop. Tie them with a ribbon or a twine topped with a holiday ornament and display a pack on each guest plate. Your gourmet friends will appreciate this extra step.
holiday recipe card printables

Printing Considerations

If the recipe cards are for a gift, I recommend a cardboard paper because they look the best. You want a paper on which it will be easy to write. For that reason, it is better to select a matte paper.

On the other end, laminated recipe cards are easy to wipe off. Since I prefer to protect my own recipe cards with self-laminating sheets, I print the recipe cards that are for my own use on standard printing paper with a higher brillance level.

Feel free to print my holiday recipe cards. If you like them, share my link with your friends and family. The size of my recipe cards is 3×5 inches.

Click here to download my holiday recipe card printables.

If you are interested in the complete recipe, click here for the pineapple marmelade recipe.

 

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

On my Wish List: The Sticks Silicone Moulds by Lekue

make your own bread sticks

make your own bread sticks
photo: Lekue World page on Facebook

Sticks is a silicone mould that let you greet your guests this holiday season with 30 delicious, crunchy homemade bread sticks. Cooking time is 15 minutes on the oven, or 5 minutes on the microwave. I see it as a perfect bakeware tool for the hostess.

What I like about the Lekue Sticks mold is that the stocks are the right size to be served as appetizers.

lekue sticks
sourcing: Lekue Sticks

They are not just for appetizers. You can serve bread sticks, instead of crackers, with a warm soup at lunch time or you can include them in your dessert table. On Lekue Web site, I found two basic savoury bread stick recipes  (parmesan and orange sticks, black olive sticks) and three basic sweet bread stick recipes (spice sticks, cacao sticks, citrus sticks).

bread sticks with a soup for lunch

I already own the Decomax. Since I really want them, I ask a local shop to investigate if they could order them for me. I have my doubts since Sticks is a new product that seems to be available only the European site. Fingers crossed!

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

The Best Pineapple Marmelade Recipe

pineapple marmelade with croissant

josee robitaille et kim vallee
photo of Josee Robitaille and Kim Vallee

Yesterday I attended a Proctor & Gamble media event where the star was Josee Robitaille, a consulting chef. I enjoyed so much her recipes that I translated them especially for you. The first recipe is a pineapple marmelade that will become the talk at your next brunch.

pineapple marmelade with croissant

It is simple to make. No special skills are required. All you need are 4 ingredients (pineapple, sugar, lime and fresh vanilla), a heavy-bottomed pot, a Microplane grater, and a food processor. I ate some this morning with a warm French croissant. Delicious! You could serve the pineapple marmelade with crepes, French toasts or on a plain yogourt.

What I like about this marmelade recipe is that it is not too sweet. If you decide to serve at a brunch, I suggest that you make a bigger batch. Your guests will be delighted to take home a small jar.

Pineapple Marmelade Recipe by Josee Robitaille

marmelade cooking
on the left side: see what is look like once it is fully cooked, on the right: get an idea of the cube size

  • After you removed the skin, split the pineapple in two lengthwise. Further divide each half lengthways and remove the heart. Then, cut into 1-inch cubes.
  • Put the pineapple cubes inside a heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) of raw sugar and the zest of one lime to the pot.
  • Cut the pod of your vanilla bean in halve, lengthwise with a paring knife. With the sharp edge of the paring knife, remove the seeds from the pods. Add the seeds to the pot. Then, cut the pod in half. Add the empty pods to the pot.
  • Bring to boiling and cook without a cover at medium temperature for 25 to 30 minutes. It will be ready when the water from the pineapple is almost all evaporated. Mix a few times during cooking.

pineapple marmelade
you aim for a puree with some textures.

  • Remove the vanilla pods and put the rest in a food processor.
  • Pulse until you obtain a coarse puree.
  • Transfer into a glass container and put it in the fridge. You can keep it for 2 weeks in your fridge.

With pineapples and citrus fruits becoming seasonal, I think that I will make my own marmelade more often.

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

How I Solved the What’s for Dinner Dilemma

weeknight dinner

weeknight dinner
photo: IKEA

In a few words, I gave me less time to think about what’s to eat for dinner. Since my toddler go to day care, the need to quickly prepare dinner has taken a new meaning. I remain impulsive when it comes to decide what to eat for dinner but I added more organisation than it used to. I factor in what my son ate for lunch, what I would like to eat and make sure that our diet provides a variety of meat, fish and poultry.

At couple weeks ago, I gave Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals a try. The recipes were delicious but I lost a lot of time by having to constantly read the instructions to find where I was. My guess is that if I redid the same recipes, it would fast.

I reserve 30 to 40 minutes before I pick him up at day care to shop for what I’ld need to cook dinner that night. It used that time as a transition between work and family time.  If the recipe is from a cookbook, I will take a picture of the ingredient list with my iPhone. This is quicker than to make a grocery list. I head to the stores with a “plan B” recipe, in case that they don’t have in stock an essential ingredient.

Our main courses for a week might look like that:

  • Casserole of grilled Italian sausage and vegetables on rice – Like father, like son, since both adore this recipe.
  • Dijon mustard trout served with grilled asparagus and rice – another winner
  • A pasta dish made with a home made sauce
  • Colombine potatoes (slices of potatoes with red peppers, french shallot and parsley), boiled green beans served with a T-bone steak
  • Thai shrimp noodles
  • Veal al limone with rice and broccoli – I used to serve Brussels sprouts with that recipe. Since my son has not yet developed a taste for them, I cooked broccoli instead.
  • Tender and crisp chicken legs with sweet tomatoes – a recipe from Jamie Oliver

Over the week, I might grab a home made dish from the freezer. But tonight, I want to try a new recipe. I will quickly browse Donna Hay cookbooks for a change. I only have five minutes left to decide.

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

Cookware on Sale at The Bay (last day)

cookware

cookware
sourcing: Lagostina Academy-Clad 5-ply stainless steel cookware set  | Jamie Oliver’s Stainless Steel Copper cookware set at The Bay

One thing that I never buy at regular price is cookware. I always wait for the Bay Days sales. Today is the last day!  You could grab two awesome cookware set under $300, which is more than half price. This is a sweet deal before the Holiday season. Both cookware sets can be used on gas, electric, ceramic and induction cook tops. It is important to cover the widest range of cook tops when you buy cookware that can last a lifetime.

Oven safe up to 500° F/260° C, Jamie Oliver’s Stainless Steel Copper cookware  features a base made of heavy gauge copper and aluminum core base encapsulated in stainless steel. This mix delivers superior heat distribution. I own an older model of the big frying pan that I use several times at week. A comfy addition, that I wish I had in mine, are the soft silicone inserts on the handles. This set is on sale at $238.

Another great choice is the Lagostina Academy-Clad 5-ply stainless steel cookware set on sale at $294. And if you need a roaster, there are several models at 30% off at The Bay until tonight.

Know that I didn’t test drive these particular models. Therefore, I can’t tell you which one is the best. If you are used to non-stick cookware, you will find these cookware pretty heavy but it is all worth it. One last thing, make sure to read How to Select a Cookware? before you buy.

 

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

A New Recipe Every Week

my cookbooks

my cookbooks

I don’t know if it is the same at your house. I am good at mixing the amount of meat, fish, seafood, poultry and pasta that we eat in a week. But I rely mainly on a set of recipes that I rotate over a few weeks. The rotation was longer before we had a child because we were eating out a few times a week. But now that I cook dinner every night, we can taste the redundancy.

By looking at my cookbook collection (I have more cookbooks stashed upstairs), I have plenty of sources of inspiration for easy to cook recipes. I use my cookbooks mainly for when I host a dinner party or during weekends. My excuse is that it is too late at 7 PM to try a new recipe.

My desire to expand our menu option comes from my little boy. Except for eating a Minigo for dessert, he craves for more variety at dinner time. So, I determined to break that bad habit. Starting tomorrow (tonight’s meal is already planned), I will try at least one new recipe every week. To make sure that I will fail, I already bookmarked 4 recipes that I never tried before.

Any tips for me? How do you vary what you cook for dinner every night?