Miscellaneous Events

My Tender-est Twosome

Posted on Feb 24, 2010

My Tender-est Twosome

When Lenn and I finally decided to do a combined Wine Blogging WednesdaySugar High Friday event, I couldn’t resist the lure of chocolate for my entry. I knew that even if I had to sip a dozen different kinds of wine I would eventually come across one that went with chocolate. And even if I had to swelter through baking baker’s dozen chocolate cakes, I would make one that went well with the wine.

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Posted on Feb 8, 2010

When I was growing up, comfort food was something I learned about very early on. I don’t subscribe to the motto that ice cream will cure all of your woes or that a chocolate bar will help you cope, it is more that I think you should eat what your body is craving. I’m not prescribing that you eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but if you’re craving a hunk of dark chocolate, you should probably indulge. It’s most likely not going to kill you.

I learned to listen to what my body was craving when I was pregnant with Leith and then again when I was hospitalized a few years ago. I won’t get into all the medical mumbo-jumbo but will admit that I ate a lot of food high in iron (a good steak is my best friend) on a regular basis. It wasn’t that I ate poorly before then; it was more that I became more aware of what my body desired and have continued to eat in that fashion since.

Sometimes what your body needs is compassion. For some this comes in the form of a cup of tea or a bowl of soup. For others it might mean eating toast or left-overs. Pasta is definitely one of the greatest comfort foods for me. Effortless to prepare, and with so many different ways to serve, it is also my stand-by side dish. But your average tomato sauce or everyday white sauce sometimes just doesn’t cut it when you whip pasta out for dinner. Besides, why should you stick to old standards when you can create new and interesting ones instead?

This little beauty of a dish can be an appetizer, main dish, side dish or, even a snack. The cheese in it is a rich-tasting, full-bodied experience and it holds its own next to the sausage and the roasted peppers. The spice is just right, enough to make your toes curl but not enough to make your tongue burn. The recipe is extremely simple to prepare (and could be done well in advance) and the only real "work" is roasting of the peppers in the beginning, which can be done well in advance if you like.

That is what I love about pasta – it is so versatile and so simple. You can eat it every day of the week and have marvelously diverse dishes to eat each time that are healthy, hearty and utterly scrumptious.

If you want some more truly delectable Macaroni and Cheese recipes, be sure to visit the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s 30 Days, 30 Ways blog.

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Your Tender-est Twosome (WBW # 66 & SHF # 63)

Posted on Feb 2, 2010

February is the month for perfect dinners – and even more perfect desserts. Everyone wants to make that quintessential meal for their loved one(s); and not only on Valentine’s Day. Here, in the ice-covered northern hemisphere, we are starting to feel the dog days of winter upon us and beginning to wonder if spring will ever arrive. I think it’s time to step it up a notch and make dessert a serious priority.

Most meals end with dessert and coffee or a glass of liqueur. The focus on the meal is long since gone, as is the wine. Guests are getting sleepy, hosts are getting antsy about the clean-up ahead of them and no one is paying attention to what they’re eating or drinking anymore. I think this is shameful. Every once in a while, dessert deserves the attention given to a main course; and a wine to match. That chocolate torte needs a nice glass of Bordeaux. That lemon tart is calling out for a few sips of Vidal. Your signature coffee cake demands a swig (or two) of a good ice wine.

The proper pairing of a sugary confection with a good wine is a difficult thing to maneuver. I have seen it done a few times in restaurants, once or twice at dinner parties and maybe done it once myself – and I almost certainly managed it by accident. Do you go sweeter with the wine than the dessert or match it? Do you go red or white or ice? Do you try to harmonize regions or go completely off the map (so to speak) with your choice…?

You have the chance to decide all this and more for yourself this month with the first ever joint SHF-WBW Dessert-Wine Pairing Event! All bloggers (food, wine or otherwise) are welcome to participate. Post your entry on Wednesday, February 24, complete with tasting notes, comments and a picture of the wine and dessert. Email me with a link to your entry, your name, your blog name and a 100 x 100 jpg titled with the name of your blog. I will post a roundup in the following days.

I am looking forward to seeing what sort of Tender Twosomes you come up with.

If you are interested in hosting SHF in 2010 please get in touch with me as soon as possible. I have slots available but they are filling up fast!

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Fry Girl

Posted on Dec 14, 2009

Everyone has a favourite kitchen item, don’t they? For some people it’s a well-worn wooden spoon, others can’t live without a properly sharpened and balanced Santoku knife. I know my mother would not feel at home in her own kitchen if there was no rolling pin and my older sister probably couldn’t live without her dutch oven. Me…? Well, I love my Kitchen Aid mixer, I am quite fond of my cook-anything-in-it toaster oven, and I always smile when I pull out my immersion blender. But my all-time, go-to, favourite item is a good-quality, not-overly-large frying pan.

I have used a few different pans over the years, with varying results. But recently I believe met the pan that I will last me the rest of my life. I have cooked pasta sauce in it, chicken (it goes stove-top to oven easily), fish and even some really delicious lemon-thyme scallops. It helped me out with a stir-fry, some corn cakes and even pancakes one Sunday morning. Then one day I started thinking about how delicious a grilled cheese sandwich would be made in this pan. I daydreamed all week (please don’t tell my boss!) about the melted cheese, the warm fillings and that perfectly caramelized crust it would give the olive-oil’ed and buttered bread.

When the eagerly anticipated day finally arrived, I stopped at the market on my way home from work for a few essentials – skim milk mozzarella, some thinly shaved turkey breast from the organic butcher, a good, ripe tomato, a loaf of crusty white bread – and then made my way home, my thoughts centered on what I was about to create. I breezily told everyone we were having sandwiches for dinner, watched their faces go from expectant to bored in less than two seconds flat and left them for the kitchen. Less than thirty minutes later I was surprising them with glorious sandwiches, full of flavours and textures.

If you want your own perfect pan, why not try bidding on once of the four Mark McEwan by Fresco pans that the amazing folks at Fresco have graciously donated for Menu for Hope this year? The codes to bid on these beautiful pans are: CA07, CA08, CA09 and CA10 (and, sorry, shipping is limited to within Canada).

For further information on Menu for Hope, and to see the other prizes available this year, see Seven Spoons (Tara is the Canadian host) or Chez Pim (Pim is the overall coordinator and originator of Menu for Hope).

To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle
1. Choose a bid item or items of your choice from the Menu for Hope main bid item list.

2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.

3. Specify which bid item you’d like in the ‘Personal Message’ section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write in how many tickets per bid item, and use the bid item code. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a bid item of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for CA01 and 3 tickets for CA07 – 2xCA01, 3xCA07.

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so MFH can claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow MFH to see your email address so that they can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

Check back on Chez Pim on Monday, January 18 for the results of the raffle.

Good Luck!!

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Sweet Satisfaction that Can Be Yours

Posted on Oct 19, 2009

Oftentimes even the simplest of fares can convey a sense of comfort, a feeling of joy and a certain amount of contentment to your day. Just the smell of something baking in the oven, a hint of cinnamon or the tang of ginger or the warmth of gooey, flavourful chocolate is all you need to make you feel warm and placated after a long day of rain and chilly wind beating against the windows of your home.

Blending aromatic ingredients into lusciously dense desserts brings a smile to my face. Nibbling on said sweets the next morning with a hot cup of coffee by my hand makes for the perfect start to a cold, blustery, busy day that has no early end in sight.

Perhaps you can create your own magical and delicious desserts by entering this contest … and perhaps I can get you inspired with a little quiz right now, that comes with a prize.

As you know, I have a love for all things "flavorsome". So much so that I named both my cats after words found in the kitchen. If you are the fifth one to email me with the names of both of my cats you will win a gift basket (pictured at the side) the following helpful products:

– $50.00 CDN worth of Pillsbury Product Coupons
The Complete Guide to a Clean House (The MollyMaid Cleaning Handbook)
– Pillsbury oven mitts and apron
– Pillsbury Doughboy doll
– Pillsbury Doughboy desk clock
– Pillsbury Totebag

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Some Help…PLEASE!

Posted on Oct 8, 2009

Lately life has been completely out of control. Hectic… busy… frantic… frenzied… chaotic. S, as you may already know, moved to Ottawa to go to school while Leith and I stayed behind in Toronto to duke it out on our own for a while. Needless to say, we’ve been keeping ourselves pretty busy (getting a three year-old to and from school on a daily basis shouldn’t be this much work!) and haven’t had time to make much of anything other than toast in the mornings and a quick pasta or rice dish in the evenings. Yesterday I actually asked my kitchen for help. While it didn’t respond, my brain finally did.

There is nothing wrong with "help" in the kitchen. There is absolutely nothing wicked about buying (if you eat it) ketchup, or (if you like it) Cheese Whiz. If you prefer canned soup, then you are not going to die a slow and painful death. If you love your microwave and use it on a daily basis, you can still continue to call yourself a cook, if what you make with it pleases you and/or your family. If you take a few shortcuts to make a delicious meal it doesn’t mean that you can’t cook or that you care about cooking any less than someone who makes their own pasta, pastry or soup stock.

I know that time is precious – I am re-learning this on a daily basis. Every hour is filled with something that needs to be done and cooking is generally the first thing to take a back seat to more important things. Why spend hours making soup when you can grab a can and heat it on the stove in under five minutes (and the noodles might even be shaped like fishies)? I think this way sometimes and I don’t hold it against myself for wanting to spend less time doing anything that might take time away from teaching Leith how to ride a bike or taking him shopping for new winter boots. I understand that part of taking care of children is feeding them something other than McDonalds and Kraft Dinner…but there are times when cooking simply has to come second.

Yes, there are times when even The Domestic Goddess in me needs a vacation. There are times when I want something but just can’t find the time to make it entirely from scratch and I will, I admit, take a shortcut that I think is forgivable. I have in the past made my own puff pastry and will only do so again if l lose a bet or have a few days alone and need to kill some time. I have never made my own phyllo dough, and don’t actually know anyone who has to be honest. To me, buying phyllo is a shortcut worth taking, especially when what you put into it is the real act of cooking.

Sometimes these shortcuts keep us cooking – so for that we should be thankful. As long as the results are what you want to eat then you are your very own genius in the kitchen. That’s why a new Pillsbury competition caught my eye and I am encouraging you to enter it. The rules are pretty simple, they want you to create your own unique recipe using one of their handy ready-made products. They have some great examples on their site (from which I have chosen a few favourites) to give you some inspiration and get you cooking, even when you don’t think you have the time.

So enter, vote and enjoy – and stay tuned because shortly, I will be announcing my own little contest you can enter to win a fantastic prize basket from Pillsbury!

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