Christmas Baking

Christmas has come and gone and of course, there was excessive amounts of baking. This year I made 7 different types of cookies.

photo 1

1. Peppermint Oreo Truffles
2. Caramel Stuffed Soft Gingerbread Cookies
3. Triple White Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms
4. Eggnog Cookies
5. Chocolate Chunk Peppermint Pudding Cookies
6. Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze
7. Chocolate and Maraschino Cherry Shortbread Cookies

This were the most successful batch of Christmas cookies I have ever made, every recipe was good! The easiest were the peppermint oreo truffles and my favourite were the lemon ricotta cookies with lemon glaze.

Part of my New Year’s Resolution is to bake cookies more often to try out new recipes and techniques – why save it only for the holidays?

Happy munching!

GC’s First Taste of Home of the Brave

A couple of weeks ago GC and I had a date night (first referenced here) in which we went to Home of the Brave for dinner.

We received the worst service I have possibly ever received at a restaurant. I would have love to chalked this up to it was a Friday night and busy but three tables were seated after us and received drinks and food before our cocktails even came. We were seated quickly but then it took 15 minutes before someone came over to give us water and take drink orders. Once our drink order was taken, it took 15 minutes to get our cocktails. It took 10 minutes from there to take our dinner order. It should never take close to 45 minutes to order food at a restaurant.

But enough negativity. Let’s talk about the food. We each started with a cocktail: GC with the Police Gazette and me with the Bourbon and Beer. The Polic Gazette is rye, maraschino, dry vermouth, and curacao. This is a good cocktail, but not worth the price given how little drink there actually is: two sips and you can drain the glass. The Bourbon and Beer is bourbon, vanilla, fernet and root beer. This drink is good for tasting the homemade root beer but you should just order the root beer. My cocktail was primarily ice cubes with slight hints of bourbon.

Once the food came, things got better. We started with the Buffalo Cauliflower.

IMG_9492Photo Credit: Food Junkie Chronicles

Buffalo Cauliflower: beer battered cauliflower, with Louisiana hot sauce, and Ranch Dressing.

These are amazing. They reminded me of an appetizer GC’s Ninni (grandmother) makes at Christmas. The batter is light and crunchy and the cauliflower is warm but cooked through. I loved the hot sauce that was used for dipping, it gave the cauliflower the perfect kick and the ranch sauced cooled your mouth off with the second dip. These are a great way to start a Friday night.

I ordered the Kentucky Fried Handshake Sandwich.

IMG_9469Photo Credit: Food Junkie Chronicles

Kentucky Fried Handsake Sandwich: Fried chicken, with mayo, iceberg lettuce, and Louisiana hot sauce.

This is a decent fried chicken sandwich. The chicken was a little too crispy and burnt but the inside was juicy and moist. The hot sauce is key as there isn’t enough of the toppings on the sandwich to make it feel cohesive.

The presentation is something onto itself but it is presentation without purpose. When they bring your the sandwich, they tell you to cut off the foot of the chicken and attack your sandwich. You could eat the crispiness off the foot but it will be more work then it’s worth. Presentation can add to the flavour and experience to a meal, but this did not successfully do so.

GC ordered the Ribwich.

photoThe Ribwich with beef short ribs, rib honey jus, pickles, and acidulated onion on a smoked milk bun.

This was a very juicy, beefy sandwich but there is absolutely no reason it needs to be so small! This was borderline slider size, that’s how small it was. If you are hungry for a dinner-sized portion, do not order this sandwich. GC enjoyed it but he was hungry a few hours later.

Overall, this was one of the worst dining experiences I have ever had. The service was completely terrible, the drinks were overpriced and the portions were too small. The price tag for the evening was far more than I would have liked to pay for the experience we got. Ultimately, Home of the Brave falls victim to the hipster curse – fancy on the outside without much substance or quality on the inside.

Happy munching!

#16 – Barque

A few weekends ago we went for brunch at #16 on BlogTO’s brunch list, buy cialis Barque. We arrived before the doors opened at 10 am and were quickly seated at a roomy, medicine high table for 4; this was a much better brunch experience then our first failed attempt to eat here.

We had wanted to start off with an herbed cheddar biscuit each, but unfortunately, the biscuits were not ready yet. We would have to enjoy the biscuits after our meals would come. I had no problem with this because it meant we got to enjoy our biscuits fresh and piping from the oven. However, if you are a smokehouse/Southern- style restaurant that serves brunch, people are going to want biscuits and these should be ready before your doors open.

IMG_4955The biscuits, when they did come, were delicious and I highly recommend them to everyone. It was buttery, and flaky but still dense. It had perfect dots of herbs and cheddar throughout. The butter was a thing onto itself: it was sweet but savoury and had citrus flavours to it. I would like to spread this butter onto everything I eat.

GC ordered the Fried Chicken Thigh sandwich, and I ordered the Barque Benedict.

Barque - BrunchTop: Fried Chicken Thigh sandwich with baconnaise, cheddar, romaine, and pickled fennel.
Bottom: Barque Benedict with smoked brisket.

This eggs Benedict was ridiculous and incredible. Instead of a traditional base of an English muffin, the eggs sat on a firm, moist bed of cornbread. I have never been one for cornbread, finding the texture too gritty, but this was not your average cornbread. It was smooth, moist and dense. The eggs were poached with oozing, runny centers and had a slight vinegar taste to them, the way good poached eggs should taste. The hollandaise sauce was lemony but had hints of sweetness from barbeque sauce, bringing this hollandaise to an unparalleled level. This is easily one of the best and most unique Benedicts I have ever had.

GC liked his sandwich, but wasn’t as in awe as I was with my breakfast. He said the chicken was a little too crispy, being burnt in some parts but was still good.

Another Sunday, another brunch, another restaurant off the list.

Happy munching!

Cranberry Margaritas

Photo Credit: Gimme Some Oven

Feliz Navidad! If you are celebrating a tropical style Christmas or are just missing the warmth after Toronto’s insane ice storm this weekend, I suggest you trek out to the store and pick up the ingredients for this cranberry margarita. A margarita is a drink that will instantly sweep you away to a warmer place. The cranberry pairs naturally with the lime citrus tones of this cocktail and give it a more festive feel.

Recipe is from Gimme Some Oven (my latest find and newest crush) and can be found below the cut.

Happy boozing!

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Christmas 2013

Christmas. Christmas. Christmas. Not my favourite holiday but I do love the build up and the all encompassing, sovaldi sale consuming ability the holiday has. With only 18 days left until Christmas, here is a list of things I would like to do by then to get in the festive spirit!

1. Bake cookies – sugar, gingerbread and shortbread are a total must
2. Visit the Distillery District Christmas market
3. Look at Christmas lights
4. Make festive ravioli
5. Make a festive wreath
6. Trim the Christmas tree
7. Go ice skating
8. Have a Christmas movie marathon night
9. Drink festive cocktails and punch
10. Bake or cook with eggnog
11. Make the house smell like Christmas
12. Send Christmas cards
13. Look festive for Christmas
14. Participate in a holiday potluck – even just by eating!
15. Eat cranberry-filled things
16. Snack on Christmas treats – candy canes, gumdrops and hot chocolate
17. If it snows, enjoy the snow!
18. Celebrate the solstice
19. Buy a new ornament for the Christmas tree and start a new tradition
20. See everyone I love (and within a reasonable distance) and wish them a “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” in person – cheesy but the perfect way to end the holiday season!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

First Day of Fall

Fall is my favourite season. There are so many amazing reasons to love it: sweater weather, ask beautiful foliage, Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts, pies and oh, my birthday. With the start of a new season comes a new list of fall food inspired activities.

1. Visit an apple orchard
2. Bake fall pies; apple and pumpkin specifically
3. Make apple cider
4. Try a new fall-inspired sangria
5. Make soups (especially lots of butternut squash!)
6. Visit a pumpkin patch
7. Make a Thanksgiving feast, even on a small scale
8. Try a new chili recipe
9. Make a spooky treat for Halloween
10. Go for a fall hike
11. Make homemade trail mix and granola
12. Finally (actually!) use my ice cream maker
13. Cozy up with a good book and a cup of tea
14. Sip on homemade hot chocolate
15. Use pumpkin in an unconventional way
16. Hop on the donut bandwagon and make homemade donuts with fall flavours
17. Snack on apples with homemade caramel dip
18. Celebrate Ocktoberfest with fall brews
19. And homemade pretzels and specialty mustards
20. Make caramel apples – sticks and all!
21. Visit a fall fair
22. Create a fall centerpiece – possibly as a test for the wedding!
23. Decorate or carve a pumpkin
24. Get lost in a corn maze
25. Toast pumpkin seeds

Happy first day of fall and happy munching!

Last Day of Summer

It is September 21st and that means the first day of fall is tomorrow. Fall is my favourite season but I will miss summer. I wasn’t as productive with my summer food list as I had hope.

Here’s what the list looks like:

1. Go to a strawberry patch and pick my own berries.
2. Make homemade strawberry jam.
3. Grow an herb garden including cilantro, basil, chives and green onion
4. Tour a brewery
5. Tour a winery
6. Try a new sangria recipe
7. Use the barbecue as a smoker
8. Cook breakfast on the barbecue
9. Finally use my ice cream maker
10. Make ice pops
11. Go on a picnic
12. Make homemade iced tea
13. Eat more salads – beans, green and fruit
14. Eat as much corn on the cob as possible in the month of August
15. Grill asparagus and wrap it in prosciutto
16. Sit on a patio at least once a week
17. Drink beers in the backyard sitting in Muskoka chairs
18. Visit farmer’s markets
19. Try gazpacho
20. Drink a cocktail decorated with an umbrella
21. Pick peaches
22. Decorate cupcakes with edible flowers like pansies
23. Make a vodka watermelon
24. Cook on a bonfire
25. Eat carnival foods: cotton candy, corn dogs and slushies

10 out of 25 is not bad, but it’s not great. Tomorrow I will come up with a food to do list for fall and hopefully I can complete all of those by December 21!

Happy munching!

 

Update: Spring & Summer 2013 To-Do List

Spring is drawing to a close and here is how my to-do list is progressing:

1. Go to a strawberry patch and pick my own berries.
2. Make homemade strawberry jam.
3. Grow an herb garden including cilantro, basil, chives and green onion
4. Tour a brewery
5. Tour a winery
6. Try a new sangria recipe
7. Use the barbecue as a smoker
8. Cook breakfast on the barbecue
9. Finally use my ice cream maker
10. Make ice pops
11. Go on a picnic
12. Make homemade iced tea
13. Eat more salads – beans, green and fruit
14. Eat as much corn on the cob as possible in the month of August
15. Grill asparagus and wrap it in prosciutto
16. Sit on a patio at least once a week
17. Drink beers in the backyard sitting in Muskoka chairs
18. Visit farmer’s markets
19. Try gazpacho
20. Drink a cocktail decorated with an umbrella
21. Pick peaches
22. Decorate cupcakes with edible flowers like pansies
23. Make a vodka watermelon
24. Cook on a bonfire
25. Eat carnival foods: cotton candy, corn dogs and slushies

I really thought I was doing better with this list but the summer is still young! The next items I hope to cross of the list are everything involving strawberries and the ice cream maker.

Spring/Summer 2013

IMG_3526Summer is fast approaching and I want to utilize as much fresh air, fresh produce and sun as I can. My friend Al over at Le Faz created a list of 25 Things to Do This Spring which inspired me to create my own list of food-related activities for spring and summer 2013.

1. Go to a strawberry patch and pick my own berries.
2. Make homemade strawberry jam.
3. Grow an herb garden including cilantro, basil, chives and green onion
4. Tour a brewery
5. Tour a winery
6. Try a new sangria recipe
7. Use the barbecue as a smoker
8. Cook breakfast on the barbecue
9. Finally use my ice cream maker
10. Make ice pops
11. Go on a picnic
12. Make homemade iced tea
13. Eat more salads – beans, green and fruit
14. Eat as much corn on the cob as possible in the month of August
15. Grill asparagus and wrap it in prosciutto
16. Sit on a patio at least once a week
17. Drink beers in the backyard sitting in Muskoka chairs
18. Visit farmer’s markets
19. Try gazpacho
20. Drink a cocktail decorated with an umbrella
21. Pick peaches
22. Decorate cupcakes with edible flowers like pansies
23. Make a vodka watermelon
24. Cook on a bonfire
25. Eat carnival foods: cotton candy, corn dogs and slushies

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is not my favourite holiday. I stay up until past midnight on a daily basis and I go out t drink and eat on a frequent basis. NYE makes all these things more tedious and expensive. My ultimate NYE is the following: going to a movie, a casual dinner at one of our favourite places, maybe a drink or two and then home for movies and the countdown. And today’s plan follows along those lines: we are going to see Django, then grab a bite to eat and a drink downtown, although probably at some ungodly early hour in order to get a table, and then over to a friend’s place where we will be trying out the Watermelon Champagne Jell-O shots I made.

Regardless of where 2012 found you and where you will find yourself in 2013, Happy New Year! Check out some cookies to reflect on the past year and get pumped for the new one ahead!

NYE2Happy New Year from LilaLoa.

newyearscoupleclockHappy New Year from Bake at 350.

0471Last year was celebrated by Sugerbelle.

900x900px-LL-7ca34af6_steampunk_new_years_eve_cookies_1A more unique New Year’s wish from Semi Sweet Designs.

New_Year_Cookie_Animation_003_grandeAnd finally, what the night is all about, the final countdown courtesy of Flour Box Bakery.

Happy New Year and see you in 2013!