{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} 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.

{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} The Art House Supper Club

I don’t think I’m the only one who wishes I could host intimate dinner parties with friends in my home, but the daunting task of creating a mouthwatering menu and a complimentary chic-yet-laid-back ambiance, keeps me from sending out the invites.

I had heard about underground supper clubs, and had been intrigued by the idea of dining in a secret location with unfamiliar faces and undiscovered dinner dishes, but I didn’t know that I had access to this unique dining experience in my own city.

When I received an invite to try out the new Art House Supper Club, I was excited. The idea of attending an intimate dinner party without the prep or cleanup sounded like the perfect way to spend an evening catching up with friends (and connecting with new ones).

The secret dinner location is set in a serene multi-level backyard garden, tucked under a canopy of lush trees and filled with flowers. The house itself is cozy and quaint, its walls filled with colourful paintings by the talented owner/artist. The hosts, a lovely family with a shared passion for food and the arts, are warm, welcoming, and attentive.

Yard

Art House Supper Club Gardens

Dining Room

Art House Supper Club Indoor Dining Room

The unique dining experience is a perfect fit for social foodies. As you mingle and sip, the lovely Chef Rose cooks up a decadent 4-course menu filled with dishes that perfectly balance sophistication, skill and culinary passion. Each menu has a different theme – ours was French cuisine, which I was excited to try.

1st Course: French Onion Soup

Our meal began with a healthy serving of French Onion soup – steaming hot, cheesy, and perfectly baked. It was the best I had tried and I couldn’t wait to see what else was in store for us.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

2nd Course: Galette de Pomme de Terre with Smoked Salmon

The 2nd course and main entree was the most delicious French dish – a surprise to the palate. I hadn’t heard of this dish before, and was pleasantly surprised as I bit into the cool, light, flavourful dish. I could taste the capers which perfectly complemented the freshly smoked salmon and fluffy pomme de terre base. Magnifique!

Galette de Pomme de Terre with Smoked Salmon

Galette de Pomme de Terre with Smoked Salmon

3rd Course: Floating Islands

The 3rd course was the most delicious sweet treat – Floating Islands. Fluffy clouds of meringue propped on top of a rich and creamy pool of caramel, and sprinkled with finely diced almonds. I moaned with delight as I savoured every bite.

Floating Islands

Floating Islands

4th Course: Cheese Board

The 4th and final course was a carefully-curated cheese board. The hearty selection of cheeses perfectly complemented the French menu, including 3 cheese options of various textures and tastes. I couldn’t stop sampling each variety and continued to nibble until the plate was empty!

Cheese plate

Cheese Board

Each dinner includes sparkling water, coffee & tea, but due to licensing restrictions, guests are invited to bring their own alcoholic beverages. Not sure which wine to pair with the menu? Their sommelier includes a list of suggested pairings with each menu. Each seating includes 10 spots. Bring a friend, book a group, or go solo and meet some new friends with a shared love for fine dining.

For around only $50 per person, this 4-course dining experience is a steal. Interested in trying out this unique “underground” dining experience? Book your spot here.

{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?

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!

 

Recipe: Our Favourite Meatloaf

I’m not sure why I don’t make meatloaf more often. It’s so simple to make, and my kids love it! It’s like a giant meatball packed with veggies and protein, topped with sweet tomato sauce – perfect for picky palates.

This was quite possibly the easiest dinner I have ever made for my family. You just toss the ingredients into the bowl, mix them up, place the mixture in a loaf pan, cook it, and serve it up! I chose to serve this version of meatloaf with roasted potatoes and baby carrots, and a delicious pear and gorgonzola salad, but this meal would also work well with rice and broccoli, or just about any combination of carb and veggie.

Meatloaf

Ingredients:

Meatloaf

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Combine beef, 1/2 can of soup, onion, breadcrumbs, parmesan, eggs, black pepper, and garlic.
  •  Transfer to a nonstick 9×5 inch (2 L) loaf pan. Spread remaining soup over top. Bake for 60 minutes or until instant read thermometer registers 165°F (74°C) when inserted into the center of the meatloaf.
  • Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Meatloaf

Bee’s Take:

  • Try adding diced carrots and celery to sneak in some added veggies.
  • I found the sauce slid off the top once the meatloaf had fully cooked, try saving 1/4 of the sauce and adding it for the last few minutes of cooking time.
  • Use extra lean ground beef to cut down on fat.

Meatloaf

Want to discover more easy, family-friendly recipes that your whole family will enjoy? Check out the new Cook With Campbell’s Mobile App! Now you can peruse their meal ideas while you stroll through the grocery store, and your list of ingredients will be accessible in the palm of your hand. I can’t wait to try this for last minute meal ideas.

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Disclosure: I am part of the Campbell Company of Canada Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Recipe: Chicken And Broccoli Alfredo

In a house full of picky eaters, it’s challenging to find dinners that satisfy the taste buds of my little babes. And while their palates have varying preferences, there are two ingredients that always seem to appease the whole gang – chicken, and broccoli. A meat, and a veggie. It could be worse, right?

Before I became a Campbell’s Ambassador, my roster of recipes had included only one go-to chicken and broccoli dish, but I can happily say that I now have another delicious dish to add to my list – Chicken And Broccoli Alfredo.

This recipe is surprisingly easier to make than my old standby, and the added flavours of sundried tomatoes and basil give it a twist – differentiating this dish from the list of other chicken and broccoli recipes that I’ve tried in recent months.

Recipe

Ingredients:

10 oz (284 g) fettuccini
3 cups (750 mL) broccoli florets
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
4 (750 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt and ground black pepper (each)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (284 mL) CAMPBELL’S® Condensed Low Fat Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup (125 mL) 1% milk
1/3 cup (80 mL) sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup (60 mL) parmesan cheese, grated

Recipe

Directions:

1) Cook fettuccini according to package directions. Add the broccoli during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and set aside.

2) Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.

3) Add soup, milk and fettuccini with broccoli. Cook, stirring often, until heated through. Stir in sundried tomatoes and basil. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Recipe

I’m happy to say that everyone at the table truly enjoyed this dish – and the leftovers made the perfect lunch too! Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Want to discover more easy, family-friendly recipes that your whole family will enjoy? Check out the new Cook With Campbell’s Mobile App! Now you can peruse their meal ideas while you stroll through the grocery store, and your list of ingredients will be accessible in the palm of your hand. I can’t wait to try this for last minute meal ideas.

Bee’s Take:

I think this recipe would be extra delicious with some sautéed mushrooms and crispy bacon bits, yum!

Pasta 5

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Disclosure: I am part of the Campbell Company of Canada Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.