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The Ultimate Summer Party Menu

I love to host parties- there’s something really satisfying about hosting a good get together at my home. Whether it be a birthday party (mine or otherwise) a New Year’s Eve bash, or something as simple as a dinner on a weeknight with friends. Having my place be the gathering place has always been important to me. It’s why I’ve always made sure to be prepared for a guest or two to stop over, and more importantly, it’s made me know how to put together a menu for when I’ve invited people over.

This week I had a few friends over to celebrate the beautiful weather and more importantly- just get together! Knowing I wanted to put together a menu that would be tasty, would sit out well, and would be fairly easy to make (who wants to be slaving in the kitchen while you’ve got people over, right)? What made this fun was I got to work with Woolwich Dairy to help put together this summer feast and share my menu for the Ultimate Summer Party.

Here is the menu I put together and the food I served on the day:

Appetizer: Oven Roasted Corn with Chilli Lime Butter and Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles
Main: Hot Italian Sausages with Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles, Pickled Hot Peppers and Fresh Greens
Dessert: Woolwich Dairy Triple Creme Goat Brie and Cranberry Jelly Pops

Now before I start listing the ways to make these, you may be wondering- why only goat cheeses? I, along with many of my friends, are becoming increasingly picky about what we want to put in our bodies. It is important that we not only know where our food is coming from, but that we’re making the best choices to help fuel our body and keep us healthy. I personally prefer Goat Cheese for a lot of my meals using cheese because it has less naturally occurring sugars and contains more potassium, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Iron. It’s also higher in protein and most importantly, has lower lactose levels than normal milk. That last one is a big deal for me- I’m very sensitive to lactose, and whereas I may not feel as great after eating traditional dairy products, I don’t notice the same feeling after goat milk products! Always an added bonus! Now, onto the menu!

Oven Roasted Corn with Chilli Lime Butter and Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles

Corn on cutting board

Nothing says summer better than corn on the cob! Super sweet, can be dressed savoury and always a crowd favourite. This is a go-to recipe of mine and I make it every year. I play around with the amount of spices and seasonings (it’s not an exact science to say the least). So have fun with these and see what works for you!

Ingredients: 

Ingredients: 

Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Grill the corn in their husks until the husks start to blacken, about 3 minutes per side. (If you don’t have a grill, or you bought your corn without husks, you can simply bake these on a roasting pan for about 20 minutes at 400F.

Mix together the butter, chilli powder, cayenne pepper, lime juice and some salt and black pepper in a bowl until incorporated.

Peel back the corn husks or remove entirely. (If pre-husked, ignore)

Rub the chilli-lime butter all over the corn. Garnish with the goat cheese.

Hot Italian Sausages with Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles, Pickled Hot Peppers and Fresh Greens

Ingredients:

To serve: ketchup, mustard, relish, etc…

Instructions

Cook your sausages according to the instruction when you buy (typically around 350F for 25-30 minutes).

While your sausages are cooking, on a grill or grill pan, heat to hot, and place your buns inside faced down until lightly toasted.

Once your buns are toasted, prep your condiments (cut olives in half, put everything into bowls, etc..)

Once the sausages are cooking, start with a bed of greens in your buns, top with the sausage, and add your condiments, finishing with the goat cheese.

Woolwich Dairy Triple Creme Goat Brie and Cranberry Jelly Pops

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F

On a lightly floured surface, roll out your first sheet of puff pastry to about 1/4″ thick. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, divide into 6 equal sized squares. Place aside and do same with second sheet.

With the first set of pastry squares, place ~2 tbsp of jelly in the middle of the square and place your brie in the middle of the jelly. Skewer the brie with your popsicle or lollipop stick and then repeat for all 6 squares.

In a bowl, whisk your egg and water together and brush the egg wash around the edges of the of the pastry square you have the brie and jelly in, and top with the second set up pastry squares (this will help them stick) and then use a fork to seal the edges by crimping around the whole square (being extra careful to seal around the stick).

Brush the egg wash over the top of each square and bake on a baking sheet with parchment paper for 12-15 minutes (depending on your oven, mine took 13).

Cool for 5 minutes and serve!

I hope that you enjoyed this summer party menu and are able to use some of these for your next get together! It’s an easy, stress free way to have a feast for your friends and family! Thanks again to Woolwich Dairy for sending me great product and being just as excited to work with me on this.

Holiday Menu for Hosting Guests

When given the opportunity to cook a dinner when there are no dietary restrictions, my mind tends to wander (in the best of ways) and I get to be really creative with what I put together. Depending on the group I have over, I’ll sometimes test recipes I haven’t made that often, or even try out something totally new. However, when it comes to the holidays, I like to stick to the tried and true- the old faithfuls that I have tweaked and edited over the last few years so that way everyone leaves with a guaranteed great meal. This may seem like the easy way out, but I like to view it as being as best prepared as possible!

With this menu, I decided to stray away from the traditional turkey, or ham, or fish, and go for something a little brighter! Each dish is warm and feels like you’re eating a hearty home cooked meal. With the weather being colder, I wanted to make sure my guests would be comfortable, and leave comfortable. Also, I wanted to make sure this was a meal I could mostly put together on the stovetop! Using Frigidaire’s induction stove top made these a breeze: I can always count on fast and even heat = a delicious result every time.

Here is my menu for my second holiday dinner:

Starter:

Creamy Mushrooms on Toasted French Bread

Main:

Dry Rub Flank Steak with Corn Salsa

Dessert:

Blueberry Galette

Creamy Mushrooms on Toasted French Bread

This is such a versatile dish- you can have it for breakfast, lunch, you can use it as a side or even on its own. For the purpose of this meal, I’m going to be using it as the starter for my guests. I wanted to make sure they had something warm as soon as they sat down that would cling to their insides while the rest of the food is being prepared. Using Frigidaire’s induction stove top makes heating up the cream really easy– it is really responsive and can go from simmering to boiling on-demand, ensuring you end up with the perfect finished product every time.

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Olive Oil + 2 Tbsp for brushing
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
2 Garlic Clove
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
8 Tbsp 35% cream
800 g Finely Chopped Cremini Mushrooms
2 French Sticks (Cut into ~24 rounds)
(Sprouts optional)

Steps

  1. Heat oven to broil
  2. Place the oil and butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the mushroom  and cook for a further 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the cream and parsley to the pan and bring to a simmer.
  5. Cook until the cream has started to reduce, and you have a thick mushroom mixture- you don’t want it super runny.
  6. While cooking, brush the cut up bread with olive oil and place in the oven for 3-4 minutes or until broiled and golden brown.
  7. Serve the mushroom mix on the toasted bread and enjoy

creamy mushroom on toast

 

Dry Rub Flank Steak with Corn and Jalapeño Salsa

Ingredients:

Dry Rub:
2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar
1.5 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1.5 tablespoon paprika
2.5 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1.5 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1.5 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 heaping teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon thyme

Steak and Salsa:
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grill
3 cups corn
1/4 large red onion,finely chopped
2 jalapeño finely chopped (I keep the seeds)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 limes
freshly ground pepper
1 medium sized flank steak (about 1.5lbs- ask your butcher to get you the right size).

Dry rub:
Combine brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, granulated garlic, mustard powder, thyme and cumin in a small bowl.

Salsa:
Add your corn and jalapeño to a medium sized skillet on medium high heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes (closer to 10 if frozen corn). This will get everything hot and release some flavour from the pepper. Remove from heat and add in your onion, tomatoes, cilantro and juice the limes. Add in pepper and stir until well mixed. Set aside (or put in the fridge covered if you’re making your steak later)

The Rest:
Take your spice mix, and rub into each side of the steak (I lay it all out in a tray, and drag the steak through it, and then I packed the spices it didn’t catch and rub it into the steak by hand until it no longer falls off. Add a bit of olive oil to each side to keep everything on. Pre-heat your grill or grill pan until very hot. You only need about 4 minutes per side if you want medium rare (a bit longer if you have a thicker or bigger cut). Once cooked to your liking, remove from heat. DO NOT CUT RIGHT AWAY. Leave it for 10 minutes so the juices seal in. Once that’s done, I put it in the broiler on high for 1 minute or so. Serve by cutting against the grain and top with the salsa.

 

flank steak with corn salsa on top

Blueberry Galette

I always like to end my meals with something that has a bit of acid  to help with digesting, especially if there have been fatty foods. I find that this dessert sits nicely after a large meal and doesn’t feel too overwhelming. You definitely don’t feel bad going back for seconds.

Ingredients:
1 refrigerated pie crust (frozen works as well, just let it thaw briefly before using)
2 Cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
⅓ cup sugar
2 Tbsp  cornstarch or Tapioca powder
Juice of ½ Lemon
Zest from ½ Lemon
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp butter divided into pea sized amounts
1 Egg
2 Tbsp raw sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  2. Prepare a baking dish with parchment paper and lay out the pie crust onto the baking sheet and set aside.
  3. In a bowl mix the berries (if you’re using frozen berries, let them thaw shortly first on the counter), sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, zest and pinch of salt.
  4. Spoon the berry mixture onto the center of the pie crust.
  5. Gently pinch up the sides of the pie crust to make crust bowl for the berry mix (remember, you’re not putting another crust on top, and want the sides to act like a partial crust coming in)
  6. Pull the edges in towards the center as you pinch around the outside of the pie crust. Dot the top of the galette with the pea-sized butter pieces. When completed, set aside
  7. In a small bowl whisk the egg and a splash of water together. Paint the edges of the pie crust with the egg wash (when baking, this will give the crust a nice golden color without overbaking). When done, sprinkle the edges with the raw sugar (be generous, if you need more sugar, use more).
  8. Place in the oven on the center rack and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove when the crust is golden and the center is bubbly.
  9. Let cool and serve with a sprig of fresh mint, or a scoop of your favorite ice cream.

blueberry galette

This post is Sponsored by Frigidiare Canada

Holiday Vegetarian Menu for Hosting Guests

The way I like to see it, there’s two types of people in life. Those who like to cook, and those who don’t. Growing up, I was one of the people who definitely did not like to cook. It was only after moving out that I started to venture into the kitchen.Over the last few years I have started hosting more and more dinner parties. These dinners have been for everything from “Let’s just have a dinner,” to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the like. My favourite meals to cook and my favourite dinners to host are holiday meals however. Why? Well, there is something about people gathering for a holiday in your home, celebrating over food that you’ve made for them that is really rewarding. It brings you closer together and leaves you with memories that will last a lifetime.

I have a lot of foodie friends who love cooking (and like me, are in love with the new Black Stainless Steel appliances which make your kitchen look so much more refined) and they’re pretty divided between vegetarian and not. Now, this isn’t the most difficult thing to deal with when hosting but it is definitely something you need to be aware of when putting together your menu, how you keep your dishes (making sure nothing mixes) and how you serve. What I’ve come to do, is host two separate dinners- one totally vegetarian, and one not. This way there’s no chances of mistakes, of one side being served more than the other. Everyone gets the meals they love in the way they like them! I’m going to share with you the two menus I’m planning on making this year- my vegetarian menu, and my other menu!

*Note* I like to keep my menus fairly simple, because not only do you have to make multiple courses, but there is nothing worse than finding a recipe, and not having, or not being able to easily find the ingredients. All of my recipes are pretty straightforward with ingredients you can get year round at the local grocery store.

Starter:
Parsnip and Apple Soup

Main:
Roasted Cauliflower with Wow This is So Good Sauce

Dessert:
Orange Cranberry Loaf

 

Parsnip and Apple Soup
(This is one of my favourite soups, and is a breeze to make. The Frigidaire Induction stovetops make cooking this really easy. Everything heats up and cooks that much faster, it’s easy to control the temperature so you don’t overheat or burn anything, and it’s a breeze to clean if you spill anything).

Ingredients:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp green cardamom seeds (from 3-4 pods)
40g butter
2 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 medium onion, chopped
700g  parsnips
3 garlic clove, crushed
5 cm fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
150g peeled and chopped Golden Delicious apple (about 1 medium-size apple)
1.2L fresh vegetable stock
2 tbsp crème fraîche
1 tsp chopped chives to garnish

  1. Heat a small, dry frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the cumin, coriander and cardamom seeds and shake them around for a few seconds until they begin to get a bit darker (you’ll also smell them toasting). Put these into a mortar and pestle or a pepper grinder and turn them into a powder.
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a medium-size pan. Add the onion and cover. Cook for 10 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Meanwhile, peel the parsnips and cut them into 2.5cm pieces. (Peeling is important or your soup won’t have a nice consistency).
  3. Uncover the pan, add the garlic, grated ginger and all the spices, then cook for 1 minute more. Add the parsnips, chopped apple and stock, then bring to the boil, cover and simmer. Simmer for 45-60 minutes or until the parsnips are tender when you poke them with a knife.
  4. Remove soup from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Using either an immersion blender, or blender, blend.. Pour it through a sieve into a clean pan, using a wooden spoon to push it through. Season to taste.
  5. To serve, stir in the crème fraîche. Pour into heated bowls and top with chives.

Apple parsnip soup

 

Roasted Cauliflower with “Wow This Sauce is So Good” Sauce

This has been one of my go-tos for a while after being taught it by a friend last year. It is really beautiful when brought to the table, and the sauce, if you couldn’t tell by the title, is one that will leave people talking.You’ll love having the induction stove top for the sauce because you need to watch it somewhat closely to keep it from burning and having better control over the heat than a gas stove top is really helpful.

Ingredients:
1 large cauliflower head, trimmed (Get as big and pretty of one as possible, fresh)
300ml dry white wine (pinot grigio preferred)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
Garlic bulb, halved horizontally (This is the whole bunch of garlic, not just a clove)
1 large egg, lightly beaten and seasoned well
Sharp cheese that you can sprinkle over the top (this is optional)

For the sauce:
Olive oil for frying
1 shallot, very finely chopped
50ml dry white wine (a pinot grigio works for this)
300g vintage or extra-mature cheddar, grated
125ml whipping cream (35% cream)
1 jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped (I keep the seeds in because I like the spice)
2 green onions, finely sliced

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. Put the cauliflower in a large pan with the 300ml wine, bay leaves, peppercorns and garlic halves. Pour over boiling water from the kettle to just cover the cauliflower – there’s no need to worry if your cauliflower floats, it likely will – and simmer for 20 minutes, turning it halfway through.
  3. Lift the cauliflower out of the poaching liquid into a colander and leave for 10 minutes to steam dry. (Be careful when lifting- it will be hot, and you don’t want to be rough with it, you want to keep its shape).
  4. Put the cauliflower in a roasting pan (anything that is deep enough), brush all over with the egg, then grate over a generous amount of cheese so it covers all of the top and on the sides.
  5. Roast in the top third of the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden (watch this closely after the 15 minute mark, it can go from perfect to burnt pretty quickly)
  6. To make the sauce, heat a splash of olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan (cast iron or nonstick is fine), add the shallot and cook for 5-6 minutes until translucent and soft.
  7. Add the 50ml wine and bring to a bubble (not a rapid boil) until evaporated by two thirds. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting, then add the cheese and cream. Stir constantly until the cheese melts to a smooth sauce. Stir through the chilli and spring onions, season, then pour into a warmed container. Put a piece of cling film directly onto the surface of the sauce and keep somewhere warm (I will put a stool in front of the oven and put it there so it gets the warmth off of the oven).
  8. When the cauliflower is roasted, remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Take it to the table, then pour over two thirds of the sauce before carving. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Orange Cranberry Loaf

I was taught how to make this by a friend of mine who recently launched a bakery, and I never would have thought to make it. When I did, it was strange, apparently it was a dessert that a lot of my friends families made for them growing up. It was great to be able to bring back those memories for them. This is a breeze to make, and lasts in the fridge for up to two days after.

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in orange zest, and cranberries. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in orange juice. Beat in flour mixture until just moistened. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the bread springs back when lightly touched. Let stand 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Orange cranberry loaf slice

This post was sponsored by Frigidaire Canada

The Dirty Bird Toronto (Uber Eats) Review

Have you ever been scrolling through Uber Eats trying to decide what to order and you’re wary if something is going to travel well, or if will taste good when it gets to you? There’s been plenty of times I’ve ended up disappointed, so it makes it hard to want to take risks sometimes. Wishing there were more reviews about ordering from certain restaurants on the app (other than the amount of star ratings) I’ve decided to start adding the meals I order on here. Now- I don’t order too frequently, however, when I do, I’ll make sure to update this.

The first review is going to be of a Toronto favorite- The Dirty Bird. With their location in Kensington Market, the restaurant does all that it can to have its ingredients be locally sourced. It also is different than traditional fried chicken in that it is finished with maple dust that gives you a sweeter finish than traditional southern fried chicken which has a punch of heat.

Now, after seeing great pictures of them tagged on their Instagram, and positive reviews from friends and colleagues, I was wondering if something that is supposed to be crispy and hot, would travel well.  I was pleasantly surprised! Here’s what we ordered:

6 Piece #NorthernFried Bone-In Combo (4 Legs, 2 Thighs, Choice of Side Dish): $24.00
Choice of Side: Fries
Additional:  (2x) Waffle with Syrup ($5.00 each)

So how was it? Amazing!

The chicken was breaded to perfection. Being a bit on the saltier side, the maple finish really helped make your tastebuds happy because it’s that classic savoury and sweet combo. The fries were really well done, and travelled pretty well (sometimes they get super soggy and gross) but the boxes that The Dirty Bird uses keep the fries and chicken from getting soggy. And the waffles were what you’d want them to be-buttermilk, fluffy, and delicious.

Make sure to hit up The Dirty Bird on Uber Eats, or head over to their Kensington Market location- you won’t be disappointed