{FOOD} Surprise Your Sweetheart With A Foodie Prize Pack

There’s one thing that I love (almost) as much as I love my family: food – so it makes perfect sense for me to celebrate the upcoming day of love with the gift of grub!

Through my business, I’ve been fortunate to work with Brad Hill – an incredible photographer and publisher of the Foodie Book series. Not only have I enjoyed creating buzz for his business, but the books have opened my eyes to new culinary destinations that I might not have otherwise discovered.

After the launch of his first book – the North Shore Foodie, a group of friends and I started our own food tour – working our way through the featured restaurants in the book. It’s been a great excuse to veer away from my usual restaurant spots and try something new, and I look forward to eating my way through the East Van edition next!

Photo: Jamjar

Recipe for Mujadra (lentil stew) in the East Van Foodie book

Photo: Jamjar

To celebrate my love for food, I’m excited to be sharing with you a chance to win a copy of the East Van Foodie book and a gift certificate for $40 to enjoy a delicious meal at Jamjar. Enter below for a chance to win this gift pack fit for a foodie – one that you can keep for yourself, enjoy with a friend, or gift to your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day.

About the East Van Foodie Book:

It’s a dazzling coffee table book filled with mouthwatering images of delectable dishes. It’s a collection of recipes ranging from vegan fare to courses fit for carnivores – from simple everyday meals to complicated culinary processes that will push you outside of your cooking comfort zone. It’s a story book filled with the history and heart behind some of Vancouver’s most esteemed dining destinations, and it’s a book of discovery, where you’ll learn something new about the tools, tales, and tastes that come from the kitchens of our city – and from around the world.

About Jamjar Restaurant

Tantalize your tastebuds with the flavours of folk Lebanese food, cooked with passion and made from scratch in a cozy setting on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive. Using fresh ingredients and the aromatic spices of East Mediterranean cooking, Jamjar connects diners through communal sharing, nodding to Lebanese culture and the art of sharing food while enjoying the company of family and friends.

Photo: Jamjar

Enter for a chance to win below.

Note: Entrants must live in the Greater Vancouver Area.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

{RECIPE} Get In My Belly Brussels Sprouts

Growing up, nothing grossed me out more than the feeling of a soggy sphere of Brussels sprout dissolving on my tongue. I can still taste the bitter mush as I struggled to swallow it down – wincing in agony as I forked another chunk.

Back then, it seemed the only way to serve a dish of Brussels Sprouts was to boil and serve. Overcooked, unseasoned globules of grossness topped with a dollop of butter (if you were lucky). I vowed to never punish my tastebuds again with the sour sting of Brussels sprouts when I was old enough to cook for myself.

I can’t remember how I was convinced to try the infamous Brussels Sprouts dish at Glowbal Group‘s Trattoria for the first time. I’m sure a healthy dose of peer pressure (and wine – lots of wine) were involved. Nonetheless, I choked one down, ready to swish the awful taste away with a swig of red wine, but it wasn’t gross – not at all. In fact, I took another bite, and eventually ordered another dish to enjoy all to myself!

 

Image: Glowbal Group

Dinner at Glowbal Group

Since then, I’ve been obsessed. What did they do to turn the grossest vegetable in the world into a “get in my belly” dish of deliciousness!? I had to know. I asked if they were willing to share the recipe, and was surprised when they handed me a recipe card with step-by-step directions.

For months afterwards I stuck with eating in or getting their famous Brussels sprouts to go (because I’d always rather have someone else make food for me). Then one day, I decided to take a stab at it myself. I don’t have a deep fryer, and didn’t have chili flakes, so I made my own take – and it was so delicious, I’ve been making it several times a week! Here’s how to make my lazy version of the classic:

Get In My Belly Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts (small)
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. capers (drained)
  • 1 wedge lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Cut ends off, and halve Brussels sprouts
  2. Pour vegetable oil into frying pan and heat on High
  3. Add Brussels sprouts (cut sides facing down) and fry until golden brown, stirring occasionally to cook evenly
  4. Once browned, add capers, lemon juice and stir in
  5. Remove from heat, add parmesan cheese

My husband and kids refuse to eat them, but I love them so much that I cook them just for myself. SO GOOD.

Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Bee XX

{RECIPE} Mouth-Watering Chicken Marbella

I first tried this delicious dish at a dinner party a few years ago, and it was absolutely mouth-watering (hence the name of this recipe). I had asked for the recipe, eager to duplicate it, but ended up tucking it away in a kitchen cupboard – out of sight, and out of mind.

The other day I came across the recipe card, and while the memory of the dish had my taste buds screaming for an encore, I was intimidated by the long list of ingredients. I assumed it would be tricky to make, and didn’t feel up to dragging my feet down the aisles at the grocery store to pick up the ingredients that I didn’t have at home.

Thanks to Save-on-Foods Online, I was able to order the exact items I needed (including the correct quantities of each specialty item thanks to bulk food options). The food was delivered right to my door. Easy peasy.

chicken-marbella-2

Mouth-Watering Chicken Marbella

*Note: for best results, marinate the chicken in the fridge overnight.

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • coarse salt
  • freshly-ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup dried, pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
  • 1/4 cup capers (1 tbsp juice)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

chicken-marbella-4

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers, juice, bay leaves. Cover & marinate, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Arrange chicken in casserole dish. Spoon marinade over top evenly. Sprinkle chicken with brown sugar and pour white wine around it.
  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes. basting frequently with pan juices.
  5. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with fork at thickest, yields yellow (not pink) juice.
  6. With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and mixture to serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices, and sprinkle generously with cilantro.
  7. Serve with rice or pasta.

chicken-marbella-3

Bee’s Take:

  • This was a great mid-week meal. I prepped the marinade and had it all ready in the fridge, so on the day the meal was served, all I had to do was make the rice (set rice cooker and wait), and cook the dish. My kids loved it (minus the olives, which I was more than happy to eat on my own).
  • It keeps well in the fridge, so make a little extra and serve it again for leftovers night, or pack it up for a delicious lunch on the go!

Pay it forward and add this meal to your regular recipe rotation. Your family will love it.

Don’t forget to make your life a little easier by ordering online – the perfect solution for school nights, last-minute dinner parties, or just those nights when you don’t feel like going out but have empty cupboards. I use Save-On-Foods online ordering to simplify my life during overwhelming school weeks, and you should too.

chicken marbella recipe

Disclaimer: I’ve partnered with Save-On-Foods to help spread the word about their fantastic online ordering options. While this is a sponsored post, the thoughts and ideas are honest and completely my own.

{FAMILY} Why I’ve Decided To Stop Making My Son Wear Pants

In the middle of my son’s Kindergarten year, he decided that he didn’t like pants. He didn’t just dislike them as an item of clothing – he refused to wear them.

For months I fought the daily battle, trying my best to wrangle him into pants. Some days, physically forcing him into the ankle-length garb.

And then one day, I gave up.

I waved my white flag and walked away unscathed (except for maybe a slightly-bruised ego).

I soon realized that my desire for him to wear pants wasn’t just about “dressing for the weather”, it came from my fear of being judged by other parents. I worried that they would look at his bare shins as he strolled through the rain in shorts, and determine that I was an unfit mother.

How could I let my son walk out of the house improperly dressed? 

shorts-2

But I was fighting a battle that didn’t need to be fought. Sure, his legs would get cold during the cooler months, but he would learn his lesson through natural consequences, not through my incessant nagging. And why did I care so much about the opinions of others? Isn’t our goal as parents to teach our children to think for themselves and not follow the pack when it comes to the opinions of peers?

He’s an active kid – always moving, and always hot. If he feels comfortable wearing shorts all year round – so be it.

Thankfully, Peekaboo Beans offers a great variety of just-below-the-knee thick cotton bottoms, so stubborn shorts lovers can sport their favourite half-pant all year round – without freezing their buns off.

shorts-1

Parenting experts say to “pick your battles” when it comes to confrontations with kids, and this one just isn’t worth the fight.

Do your kids insist on wearing shorts year-round? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

{RECIPE} Roasted Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad

While I cook all the meals in my home, I’ve become a lackadaisical chef.

There was a time when I enjoyed cooking. When my relationship was new and I cooked to impress. When I didn’t have fussy little mouths to feed. When new meals weren’t met with dry heaves and gasps of disgust.

Now, I cook to survive. To keep my family alive. My enthusiasm has dwindled, replaced with disdain. If I could hire a full-time chef – someone to nourish my family for me, I’d be in heaven. But at this time, I just can’t afford to make that dream come true. So I I cook away at my monotonous menu – 5, maybe 10 meals that I make in rotation. Meat. Veggies. Starch. Repeat.

The other day I was surprised with a package in the mail. A wooden box emblazoned with #CatelliFamilies. I knew the Catelli name well (homemade macaroni and cheese using Smart Catelli pasta is one of my trusty standbys), and couldn’t wait to see what was inside.

When I opened the box, I found 2 boxes of Ancient Grains pasta, a bottle of white wine vinegar, 2 yellow zucchinis, and a lemon.

Pasta Salad Recipe

What am I supposed to do with this? I thought to myself.

The note attached challenged me to come up with a recipe, create and share it, using the provided ingredients and anything else I’d like to add to make it my own. My initial instinct was to make my usual mac n’ cheese, and toss the rest of the stuff into the cupboard (aka let it expire and toss it out), but then I thought to myself: here’s my chance to make cooking fun again.

Challenge accepted.

With a little help from Chef Google, I came across a do-able recipe and went straight to work. Here’s what I came up with:

Roasted Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 340g box of Catelli Ancient Grains Fusilli pasta
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 2 medium yellow zucchinis
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 medium sweet red peppers, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 can sliced ripe black olives, drained
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

PARMESAN VINAIGRETTE:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

 

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the eggplant, zucchini, red pepper and onion lengthwise into 3/4-in.-thick slices. Brush with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables, covered, over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until crisp-tender. When cool enough to handle, cut into cubes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, parsley and grilled vegetables to the pasta. In a small bowl, whisk the vinaigrette ingredients. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Pasta Salad Recipe

Bee’s Take:

  • I thought it was so delicious, perfect as a light, vegetarian meal on its own, or as a great compliment to a BBQ’d meat (I served it with ribs and crusty french bread)
  • My kids didn’t like the roasted vegetables or feta (because THEY DON’T LIKE ANYTHING), but they loved the noodles! (thankfully they were healthy)

I’m looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch. Healthy, filling and totally delicious. Adding this to my Summer list for sure.

Pasta Salad Recipe

{FOOD} What To Feed Your Child’s Gluten-Free Friends

Let me preface this by saying that until recently, I had no idea what ‘gluten’ even was. I figured it had something to do with bread, but other than that, I was completely (and embarrassingly) clueless.

A few of my children’s friends have celiac disease (an intolerance t0 gluten). And while eating a gluten-free diet has become somewhat of a trend these days, celiac disease is not a lifestyle choice, and definitely not something to be taken lightly.

When one of my daughter’s friends came over for a play date the other day, I wanted to make sure that I only offered gluten-free snacks, but I didn’t know which foods to avoid. After a series of lengthy texts with her mother (and with a little help from ‘Dr. Google’) I did my research, and was surprised by some of my discoveries.

Some sneaky foods that actually aren’t always gluten-free (check the labels!):

  • chocolate
  • pickles
  • hot dogs
  • soy sauce
  • sushi (not just soy sauce, but imitation crab and wasabi)
  • liquorice
  • french fries

What to look out for:

With so many foods on the “not safe” list, I found it helpful to reference a list of ingredients to avoid when preparing food for my child’s gluten-free friend. Here’s a great resource for both ingredient-checking, and learning more about the impacts of celiac disease: Celiac Disease Foundation.

With all this new information in mind, I wanted to feed my daughter’s friend without making a big deal about her dietary restrictions. For snacks, I stuck with fresh fruit (strawberries and blueberries are definitely a safe option), and a bowl of Boom Chicka Pop sweet & salty kettle corn (it says “certified gluten-free right on the bag – easy peasy for moms like me!).

For dinner, I grilled some chicken on the BBQ (lightly seasoned – but no BBQ sauce, because upon reading the label I discovered that was out too!), served with broccoli and plain rice.

 

I was happy to have fed my daughter’s friend without slipping up on the gluten-free front, but I felt as though I could have done better. I’m sure the dinner was bland and thought I could definitely have done better to satisfy her palate. So to prepare myself for next time, I’ve pulled together a great list of gluten-free recipes from some of my favourite mom bloggers. I’m going to file them away, and hopefully this will give you all some new gluten-free snack ideas too!

4 delicious gluten-free recipes to bookmark for later:

(click on the images to link to the full recipes)

{FOOD} Talking To Your Kids About Meat

There are certain conversations that parents dread having with their children – where babies come from, or the truth behind certain mythical characters – but there is one topic that is less commonly discussed amongst parents that can be equally as awkward: talking to your kids about meat and where it comes from.

Kids Meat

I remember when my firstborn made the correlation. When she was about 5 years old, I had served chicken for dinner. When she asked me what we were having and I told her, she paused. I could see the wheels turning as she thought about it for a moment. “Mommy,” she said slowly, “do you mean chicken, like, the animal chicken?” I swallowed hard and took a deep breath as I began to explain.

“Well, you see honey, some of the food we eat comes from animals…” She looked at me nonchalantly and replied, “…you mean like how milk comes from cows?” I paused for a moment, and then replied, “Yes, exactly like that.”

Too afraid to go into more detail, I left it at that, and she seemed satisfied with my response. I had chickened out about telling her the truth behind her chicken dinner. I decided the truth could wait.

I of course had to have the more detailed conversation with her later, and it wasn’t as painful as I had expected. I explained it as gruesome-less as possible, in more of a scientific manner, and she took it…well…let’s just say there was a week or so where she decided she didn’t want to eat meat. But after awhile she enjoyed her meat-packed meals once more and it became a non-issue.

An interesting study was recently conducted by some doctors in Australia on how farm animal production is discussed in Australian households and how children learn about the origins of meat. The findings included interesting stats, such as:

– Parents preferred to initiate conversations with children about meat production before they were 5 years of age.

– Urban parents were more likely than rural parents to reveal that they were conflicted about eating meat, and would be more empathetic to children who chose to stop eating meat.

– Rural parents were more likely than urban parents to feel that children should eat what they are given and that talking about meat is not a major issue.

– Both groups felt that it was important that children should know where their food comes from.

The study also uncovered some differences in how women and men talk about and manage their children’s attitudes towards meat, finding that: “Female carers were more likely to agree that their children could make their own decision about whether or not to eat meat, and be more understanding if they stopped eating meat.”

I guess my family is an exception to the norm. My children were a bit older than 5 when they were exposed to the whole truth about meat, and although we are an urban family, meat is kind of mandatory (if my kids think I’m going to custom-make vegetarian options, they’re nuts). Unlike the study’s findings, I think my husband would be more sensitive to our children’s decisions about whether or not they want to eat meat. Although, I’m the cook in the house  (mama does after all run the grill). When it comes to meals in my house, my meat tooth wins. My kids will just have to deal until they can makes their meals on their own.

I wanna know: have you had the meat conversation with your kids yet?

{FOOD} 5 Problems That Can Be Solved With Soup

I didn’t use to be a “soup person”. The thought of slurping on a brothy bowl of chicken stock and calling it a meal just didn’t fly with me. I’m a big eater. I need substance – preferable involving meat, bread and cheese.

Last week I fell ill (yes, AGAIN) with a bad bout of strep throat, and my friend Gayle of The Soup Solution came to my rescue, surprising me with a special delivery of her delicious and hearty soups. I’m all better now thanks to the steamy bowls of Butter Chicken Soup, Greek Lamb & Spinach Soup and Classic Chicken Noodle Soup that I ingested from my death bed (and perhaps the antibiotics helped too).

soup

Yes, I said Butter Chicken Soup

And as I munched on the meals-in-a-bowl, I thought to myself: The Soup Solution. Hmmm…there are actually problems that I can solve with this soup delivery service…

So here are 5 problems that can be solved with a simple soup solution:

1) Problem: skipping lunch.

The Soup Solution: Hearty, chunky bowls of soup filled with freshly-cut vegetables and tastefully-seasoned meats make it easy to quickly prepare and eat a healthy and filling lunch.

soup

Moroccan Yam Soup

2) Problem: gift ideas for new parents.

The Soup Solution: Pre-order an array of soups and sauces and fill that new mama’s fridge with easy meal solutions for those crazy first months at home with baby.

3) Problem: dinner ideas for picky eaters.

The Soup Solution: Browse through a wide variety of meal ideas, created, curated and family-tested by The Soup Solution owner Gayle (mother of two). Check out her menu of recipe ideas and make something new for dinner that the whole family will love.

 

4) Problem: feeding unexpected pop-in guests.

The Soup Solution: No need to rush out to the store! Pull out some  Greek lamb & spinach soup from the freezer and serve it up for a warm and welcome meal.

5) Problem: healthy food is inaccessible to many families in need.

The Soup Solution: For the month of December, The Soup Solution will be working in partnership with the Quest Food Exchange program to provide healthy soups for families in need. For every 5L of soup purchased, 1L will be donated to this important cause. Learn more about how The Soup Solution is giving back through the Giving Tuesday campaign.

I can honestly say that I’ve been turned from a soup snub to a soup snob. And the butter chicken soup definitely had something to do with it.

{FOOD} 3 Family-Friendly North Shore Spots Fit For A Foodie

I have always loved dining out. In fact, if I could relinquish my cooking responsibilities entirely in favour of a personal chef, or meals carefully prepared and elegantly served in a comfortable dining environment, I would shut down my kitchen in a heartbeat. I love to eat – but I don’t love to cook. And now that I have 3 children (2 of which are in school), making lunches has become the bane of my existence.

But while I love going out for dinner, I’m getting rather tired of the regular family-friendly dining destinations (I love you White Spot, but a girl can only have so many Triple-O burgers). So for those of you who are looking for locally-owned alternatives to the typical big chain restaurants and coffee shops that are frequented by child-toting families, check out these 3 picks for family-friendly food spots fit for a foodie:

foodieWell Fed Studio

Many of my Fridays have been made better thanks to Well Fed Studio. Not only do they provide cooking classes and high quality, all-natural meals to go, but their magic lunch box program is a fantastic addition to my children’s hot lunch days at school. Unlike the hot dog days, and McDonald’s days we had at my school when I was growing up, Well Fed Studio looks for ways to add nutrient-rich ingredients and essential lean proteins to their carefully-prepared lunches – providing kids with the staying power to learn effectively. Thanks to Well Fed studio, my kids are well fed on hot lunch days, and I don’t have to lift a finger. Win-win.

If you pop into their studio, check out this fabulous special offer.

foodie


 

foodieInGrain Pastificio foodie

If you’re looking for a family-friendly spot for lunch or dinner on the North Shore, InGrainPastificio is a must-visit dining destination. Owned and operated by brother-in-law duo, Alistair Knox and Erick Kauko (infamous for their Deep Cove hot spot Arms Reach Bistro), InGrain Pastificio produces their own pasta in-house using all-Canadian, locally-sourced high-quality grains. Their easily-accessible restaurant offers high-end Italian-inspired dishes in a comfortable, laid-back environment – perfect for noodle-crazy picky eaters like mine.

Want to learn more about how InGrain Pastificio came to be? Check out their fascinating story in The North Shore Foodie book – written by yours truly.


 

foodieTemper Pastryfoodie

Our family loves to go for strolls along Ambleside beach in West Vancouver, and on chilly days, stopping for a treat and some warm bevies afterwards is the perfect way to complete our day. And while we love the usual big-chain coffee shops, a chocolate or mini dessert at Temper Pastry hits the spot for my little sweet-tooth boasting kidlets.


 

www.bradhillimaging.com

For more on these and the many other fantastic, independently-owned North Shore food & drink destinations, check out The North Shore Foodie book – available online and in-stores on November 16, 2015.

The book features the stories behind 37 leading independent North Shore restaurants, bars, cafés, bakeries, breweries, butchers and chocolatiers, and over 100 delicious recipes that come directly from North Shore chefs. Ranging from simple everyday family meals to challenging cuisine that will push you to the boundaries of your culinary repertoire, the decadent, hearty, and nutritious range of featured recipes offers something for every palate and skill level.

Wouldn’t this make an awesome holiday gift?

foodie

Want to win the ultimate North Shore foodie prize? Join us for the Instagram Loop Giveaway, running now until November 19th. Follow along here: Instagram Loop Giveaway

{RECIPE} Blueberry Watermelon Cucumber & Feta Salad

Usually when I’m asked to bring a salad to a dinner party, my initial reaction is to open a bag of my go-to Sweet Kale Salad Mix (seriously, we eat this salad mix at least 3 times a week), but this weekend, I decided to try something new.

Last week, I was invited to a media event for BC Blueberries, and as always, my tastebuds were pleasantly surprised by the uniquely delicious recipes that were shared with the guests. Menu teasers included chicken & beef skewers doused in spicy blueberry marmalade, crisp pork belly scoops with spiced blueberries, and blueberry caipirinha (quite possibly the most delicious Summer bevvy to have ever touch my lips!). As a parting gift, each guest received an array of recipe cards, each featuring unexpected blueberry-laden recipes to try at home.

The Blueberry Watermelon Cucumber and Feta Salad recipe immediately caught my eye – the perfect side for a hot Summer evening BBQ. It was really easy to make, and absolutely delicious, so I thought I would share it with you!


BLUEBERRY WATERMELON CUCUMBER AND FETA SALAD 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • ¼ tsp (1.25 ml) fresh ground pepper
  • ⅛ tsp (0.5 ml) salt
  • 1 cup (150 g) B.C. blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup (150 g) watermelon, diced
  • 1 cup (125 g) cucumber, seeds removed and sliced
  • ½ cup (75 g) feta cheese, diced or crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh mint, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl whisk together the oil, lime juice, pepper and salt.
  2. Add the salad ingredients to the vinaigrette, toss and serve chilled.

Bee’s Take:

  • I quadrupled the quantities as I was making the salad for a group of 7
  • I served the salad with some extra vinaigrette on the side in case anyone wanted to add a bit more
  • I might try springing some roasted nuts on top next time for a little added crunch

salad recipe

This recipe will definitely frequent my Summer dinner (and lunch) repertoire – it’s cool, delicious, and with the sweetness of the watermelon and blueberries, the kids loved it too!