Saturday, August 27, 2011

Can We Still Pot Luck?

Most of us love food. We have our favorite flavors, the things we crave or give us comfort. Most of us can list one or more foods that make us drool just by the mere mention of them. And we love our pot lucks.

Most of us also have food issues. I'm allergic to shellfish. She's lactose intolerant. He's diabetic. She can't eat gluten. I'm vegetarian. She's allergic to nuts.

Restaurants are enough of a challenge but can we still pot luck? When you have a room of varying issues it can be quite the challenge. It's easier to just say "don't worry about me, I'll bring something I can eat". But that's not fair. Not fair to the one with the food issue and not fair to the one who wants to share their fabulous cooking (or buying) skills.

A few of us have decided to use these "limitations" as a way to grow our cooking skills. Our next pot luck will be shellfish free, nut free, vegetarian, and gluten free. 

The other challenge for myself and my business partner at The Girls Bra Shop is that the dinner is the day after we fly back from a very hectic time in Toronto. So I want to make something easy....a word not typically associated with gluten-free. I could buy something but that goes against my nature. Giggle.

So I've decided to try a gluten-free pizza and found what looks like an awesome crust that can be frozen on the GlutenFree Goddess blog. This just makes me a very happy girl!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Banana Bread
What do you do with a plethora of bananas in your fridge? Why, you make banana bread silly. Giggle.

I don't have eggs in the house so I turned to Google and the trusty food blog world and found this fantastic recipe for Eggless Banana Bread

So light and moist. Love it!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


For a while I went through a tea phase. I loved the thought of tea. Being a coffee drinker primarily this phase resulted in a lustrous cupboard of varying teas that rarely get drank. But I still enjoy tea and when I do it has to be from a delicately designed tea cup.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...
... at least in my glass it was.

When it comes to beers, I'm not a pale ale girl. Reds or Stouts all the way. And the Dark and Stormy Night by Picaroons is one of my favorites. It's just gorgeous to look at and I swear I taste molasses and coffee.

Served up at the Saint John Ale House by a charming waiter, I enjoyed my Dark and Stormy Night with most likely the best veggie burger I have ever had. Truly. A black bean patty with tomatoes, onions, lettuce and goat cheese. Oh boy! The condiments brought to the table were never touched. Ketchup, really? (she says with disdain.) I highly recommend it.

But you won't find it on the menu. Apparently, it's one of those mystery items you hear them promoting on the elusive gnocchi, which I must go back and try some day. So you've just got to ask. I understand it is their Wednesday special. Personally, I love the idea of having specials that aren't on a menu. I like surprises.

And is it just me or does that place only hire attractive people? Just sayin'.

One of The Girls

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grrr Nola!

I'm a big fan of breakfast. It really can set the tone for your day. One of my favorites is granola with yogurt,  all homemade. I've got the yogurt making down. (See, Yogurt) But I'm still hunting for Zenny's recipe for granola. I just can't get that flavor out of my head.

I've done some googling and have started making my own batches, tweaking it here and there until I find the flavor she mastered...or something close. I did something very right last why oh why did I not write the combination down somewhere?! Back to the drawing board.

Granola is fairly simple to make. Mix your ingredients, bake stirring occasionally until you can smell it then it's done. And man how wonderful the kitchen smells with baking granola. (325 for about 30 mins)

I made a batch this week and thankfully, it's close. Just missing some freshly shredded coconut. This is what I had in it:
  • 4 cups of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of bran flakes
  • pecans (I just dumped the bag in)
  • sesame seeds
  • ground flax
  • sunflower seeds
  • 1-2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp of oil
For me it's the cinnamon that is the flavor that haunts me. Getting so close. :)

One of The Girls

I had a photo but the photo picker in blogger isn't currently working. I'll add it when it's up and running again.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Home Cooking Polish Goodness

I had a fantastic weekend in spite of all of the rain. Friday evening was a Girl's night out at the Vintage Bistro. Sunday was a day at Parlee Beach visiting a friend who was camping there. Sun and bonfire. Perfect. And Saturday I had lunch at the Polish Restaurant in Hammond River.

I love this place. I don't go often but when I do I'm always overjoyed with their home cooked goodness.  Usually I get the perogies but this weekend I decided to go with the cabbage roll, a staple in our home when I was growing up. And it did not disappoint. Rice, meat and seasoning all bundled up perfectly in a cabbage leaf with some tomato sauce over it. Yum! Similar to mom's and just as good.

Served up by the friendliest man you could ever meet. What a beautiful smile. You feel like you are at home sitting down to a family dinner.

And not to forget the view. Perfect location, inviting service, and marvelous food. What's not to like?

One of The Girls

Friday, June 17, 2011

Organic: Yes, Eat Real Food

The more I experience in life, the more I want to. And naturally that translates into living a healthier lifestyle. I'm too busy enjoying what life offers to get sick. And if there is something I can do to reduce that risk then why not?

Over the years I've traveled a good chunk of the world and am always amazed how food in countries like the Philippines, Bolivia, and Greece has so much more flavor than at home. Is it just from travel euphoria? You know how food tastes better outside just because you're outside? M'eh.

Caught that day we had
it grilled that night!
The papaya in the Philippines is so sweet and juicy, not to mention the coconut. Thinking about it still makes me drool!

I make it a point to order anything with tomatoes when I travel to Greece. I live off of their yogurt, and the olive oil...forget about it.

You know how everything tastes like chicken? Then you need to go to Costa Rica and have a real grain fed chicken breast!! We ain't got nothing like that here.

Or do we?

Gradually, I've been culling my kitchen of processed foods and going with a whole food kitchen as much as I can. It's been cool to watch the whole food, organic industry grow as more and more of us are reading labels and discovering most of what we eat...well it isn't actually food.

My cousin has chickens in their back yard. They are free range and their eggs are amazing! There are more and more opportunities to buy local and organic produce. And this morning I read an article in our provincial paper on how the face of farming is getting younger and going organic. It's exciting to watch this rebirth in such a healthy and delicious way!

One farmer mentioned is also the executive chef at the Saint John Ale House. I honestly hadn't visited much as it wasn't on my radar for healthy choices. Thanks to this article (and admittedly a photo of a gnocchi dish Jesse posted on twitter...I have a love affair with gnocchi) I plan to visit very soon.

Read the article here:

One of The Girls

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Brains Storm Better When Fed

Can we meet? Are you free for lunch? Coffee?

The best meetings seem to happen over food. Is this just a maritime phenomena? I don't think we can claim that honor as I've been wined and dined by some amazing people with varying nationalities. But I will say we do it well. Oh, we do it well!

Brains storm better when fed.

And in Saint John we seem to have a plethora of great dining options just popping up all over the place. It's part of why I love living here. Restaurants who cook real, whole food in brilliant atmospheres, with knowledgeable staff and great service.

Today, The Girls, took our meeting with Danielle from Women in Business to Britt's Pub and Eatery, a restaurant we had only followed on twitter up until now. Have a meeting? Great excuse to try it.

I love the crisp yet warm feeling the pub gives you when you walk it. Lots of natural light and areas for privacy.

One of us are trying a gluten-free diet so we naturally wondered what could a pub possibly offer other than salad. We were over the moon when the waitstaff were perfectly knowledgable about what was on the menu she could eat. This pub carries gluten free bread!! Snaps to them for investing in their clientele this major way.

The staff did recommend staying away from the spring rolls as they did have gluten and shellfish. So appreciated their expertise on their menu!

Taken from Britt's Facebook Page
We three did end up being salad girls even though the bangers and mash were calling me. And what delicious salads they were: caesar, spinach and garden. I had the spinach: roasted pecans, strawberries, apple, goat cheese, and their homemade grapefruit dressing that gave the sweet kick I was looking for.

My mind was focused on the business at hand so I didn't think to take pictures. Next time, when I go back to try the curry fries....hmmm, maybe I'll have a meeting with a photographer. Giggle.

I did find a picture on their Facebook page of their caesar salad for your pleasure. I hope they don't mind me using it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Love That Food Experience

At home I'm a one pot, comfort food cooker. Love sitting down with a good book in one hand and a bowl of something warm and aromatic in the other. From soups to risottos, one pot cooking is serenity.

But there are so many other eating experiences out there that I enjoy equally.

Photo by Kelly Lawson of the
amazing food at Alley Gria in Saint John.
Check out her blog here.
Tapas and Dim Sum are in my mind the perfect date food. Sharing dishes of little bites. Eating without a fork or spoon but your hands and chopsticks. It takes the date from two people sharing a table to two people sharing an experience.

Take out is the ideal hanging out with friends at home food. Sitting around in your grubs, spooning out pad thai or slicing up pizza. Not caring about noodles and crumbs on the counter.

And pot luck, best if shared with other foodies. Giggle.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Greek-Style Vegetable Risotto

On chilly rainy days I go for the one pot steaming dishes. Tonight's pleasure was a Greek-Style Vegetable Risotto.

I hadn't paid much attention to arugula in the past but yum! I like the bitterness. It balanced well with the peas and zucchini. And yes, I did top it off with glorious parmesan. :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chickpea, Spinach & Squash Gnocchi

Another successful first time recipe. I'm really enjoying the recipes from Eating Well. Lots of great flavours and interesting combinations. Like chickpeas and gnocchi.

I love the harvest-y flavor of this meal. Am thinking it may be a must on my Thanksgiving table this year.

Chickpea, Spinach & Squash Gnocchi

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cabbage Rolls - Mediterranean Couscous Style

I love my comfort foods. Who doesn't? I also have a lot of them. Some even healthy.

Every time I go home to visit my parents mom asks what I would like for her to cook. That's easy. Cabbage casserole or cabbage roles!

I have a rule of thumb in my house: never try to do what mom did exactly. It won't be as good as you remember. So I make what is familiar but with a twist. And with maintaining a meat free kitchen twists come in lots of interesting ways. Like couscous making up the meatiness of a roll.

I found this recipe for Mediterranean Couscous Cabbage rolls: The smells from the kitchen have been making me drool in anticipation.

Olives, feta, mint and cinnamon. Sounds like delish to me. I had to make some amendments as I made a few mistakes when getting groceries. I got 4 tomatoes...when I needed 4 cups chopped. Whoops! Good think I had a can of diced tomatoes on hand. I also ran out of sugar so used honey instead. And then also forgot to get ground cinnamon so tossed two cinnamon sticks in instead. Fingers were crossed!

And the result was definitely flavorful! Yum yum!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Taco Salad = Yum

After three weeks vacation I'm back. And back to enjoying a meat free kitchen. So what does a jet lagged girl budget for groceries?

Taco salad!!

Here is the one I'm trying this week. Vegetarian Taco Salad from Eating Well

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What's Not in My Fridge

Lately my inventive cooking is inspired by what's not in my fridge.

Case in point: I grew up Anglican and as a result participate in some of the Christian calendar events, like pancake Tuesday.

My mom's pumpkin pancakes are my absolute favorite and my parents were why not. Not thinking much about it the moment arrived to make them. "Where's the eggs?" Oh Oh. I'm not vegan. Yes, my house has been meat free for little over a month but I didn't think much about eggs. I just haven't had a need for eggs in a while. Shrug. What was once a consistent staple, had left the fridge.

Not to be deterred, Google it was...time to search for eggless pancakes. We tried this recipe: And were pleasantly surprised! The maple in the pancakes were a really nice touch! The consistency was different than what I was used to for a batter but the end result was absolutely the same and mucho delicious!!

So following this great experience I wasn't worried when staring down at my overcooked costco sized asparagus bundle. Not wanting to waste it I instantly thought of soup. I know there are cream asparagus soups but I don't keep cream or milk in my fridge.

No worries. Let's google.

And ta da the foodie blog world turned up another masterpiece: Roasted Asparagus Soup! Yum yum! Especially when I garnished it with hot sauce.

Drool! I'll take two bowls please.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons with Parsley (sans brown butter)

Still on my meat fast and finding that I'm really enjoying it. I'm feeling lighter, clearer, brighter. I've noticed subtle difference in my body as well. Maybe it's the running, boxing, snowshoeing but I'm seeing tightening here and narrowing there. Or maybe it's just my imagination. No matter. I like it.

I have been stuck a little on couscous lately and needed a change (true to my nature). So I sent out the call to those I know who truly live a vegetarian lifestyle and asked them for their tried and trues.

A co-worker sent me links to online recipes from sites she found good. And, drool, I instantly knew what I wanted: Italian. I don't remember a time when I didn't enjoy Italian! When I stumbled upon this recipe I knew it was love at first site. Not only Italian but had Gnoochi (silent G).

Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons & Parsley Brown Butter. Nutmeg makes a nice surprise in this recipe. Blended with parm and parsley...there is a nice zing to it.

One subtle tweak: I used olive oil instead of butter. Little healthier and yum yum!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Vegetarian Burritos

I've been doing some reading lately on diets and health related issues. I'm no where near done studying the topic but my initial foray into the topic has me fasting from meat.

According to a lot of what I have read, enjoying a meat-based diet just isn't great for your health. From what I understand eating this way can not only contribute to but cause some cases of cancer, dementia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc. As I said, I'm not done studying and am by no means an expert...this is just what I have understood from the scientific, cultural, and even biblical readings I have consumed so far.

Now I love meat, but if it truly isn't so great for me, the question becomes: "who do I love more?" So I'm watching my meat consumption for now.

I found this great recipe for Vegetarian Burritos and tried them out yesterday on myself and my snowshoeing partner. It was yummy, filling, and sustained us during our afternoon hike.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Cookless Cook
I had a fellow foodie friend visit last night. The plan was we would cook together. Well...he cooked and I simmered.

Here I am this foodie who can cook and has started writing about what she cooks and her relationship with food and all I did all night was simmer. That's right. My contribution was a boxed risotto that had to simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile he prepared not only a Torta di ricotta e cioccolata but a Roasted Red Pepper Artichoke Bruschetta!! Both were amazing as usual.

I've come to embrace that I don't cook well with others. I'm useless. Constantly asking what I can do and when they finally give me a task, suddenly forgetting every skill I have and even cut the bread wrong. Paper thin ciabatta bread anyone? Seriously?

All the years I have known this friend he has never tasted my cooking. He only knows...or should I say believes...I can cook because he trusts me. Shrug. I am usually trustworthy. ;)

Monday, January 10, 2011


 This weekend I made yogurt and it turned out perfectly!

I first came to appreciate yogurt during my first trip to Greece. It was offered every morning in the hotels we stayed at with hard boiled eggs and muslex for breakfast. Not liking the runny version at home I wasn't hopeful but gave it a try. Zing! Nothing like home. This yogurt was thick, creamy and a tangy delight. I was heartsick for it when I came back.

Now those who know me, know I like my ingredients to have as little processing as possible so I try to make what I can myself. I also prefer to make it instead of buying it.

It started with different types of breads. Then Zenny's Granola recipe which, try as I might, never tasted as good as hers did. She was the cook at the guest house I stayed at when I was in the Philippines. Some of it is that I'm sure our ingredients here in Canada are just not as fresh as what she had to work with so the flavors don't pop quite the same. But still. I've recently lost the recipe so am emailing to see if I can get another copy.

So what better to go with homemade granola than homemade yogurt. And lucky me, I got a yogurt maker for Christmas! It turned out just how I remembered it in Greece! Bliss!

Hmmmm I'm craving tzatziki and tandoori now too. Giggle.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Honey Lavender Ice Cream

I recently watched the movie It's ComplicatedA movie highly recommended by two friends of mine and surprisingly suave to a sad heart. Oh the giggles I had watching that movie. :)

The movie is about a divorced couple reigniting a spark and the consequences of that. I imagine all of us who have had broken relationships have day dreamed about reigniting that spark.

Finding comfort in the ending, relating to the chef character, being inspired by the dishes prepared in the movie, and fortuitously getting an ice cream maker in my recent breakup: I decided to make the Honey Lavender ice cream.
So I searched blogs to find a recipe. I didn't think I would find lavender easily and settled on Honey ice cream.

Who knew eggs were in ice cream? Okay, so you did. But I didn't. I found a honey recipe that didn't have eggs. Obviously eggs are good in ice cream, I love ice cream. But I just couldn't bring myself to use them and decided to go with a Honey Ice Cream recipe on

Milk, honey, and vanilla I had in my pantry. While getting whipping cream I recalled that I did indeed have lavender as well. I purchased at a local summer farmer's market with intentions of making scones and never did. Sweet!
I began my search again for Honey Lavender Ice Cream. Wow the blog posts with cooking inspired from this movie! I'm not alone. All of the recipes I found however still had eggs, so I decided to go with the Honey recipe and add some dried lavender to that.

The result: YUM! Sweet, rich, and breath-taking like a mint. Score! I would however take the suggestion of a recipe on and boil the lavender with the milk, cream, and honey and strain this mixture before putting it in the freezing bowl next time.

Shrug: live and learn. It is still divine and I am proudly eating it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mediterranean Pasta

The first week night of the year and I decided to go with something full in flavors and pretty simple to make out of staples from my pantry. I'm a sucker for one pot cooking and this pasta dish had everything I was craving.

Tartness of artichoke hearts, sweetness of roasted red peppers, salty kalamata olives, chicken, garlic, oregano and whole wheat penne. Sounds like delicious music to me.

And yes, those are staples in my pantry. I fell in love with the Mediterranean people, food, wine, and culture during my visits and believe one should have cupboards filled with what you love. Giggle.

You can get the artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers in bulk jars at Costco. They store nicely in the fridge once opened. Score!

The only thing missing was a glass of red wine and conversation.