BACON

I think it’s time everyone should know about my intense love for Bacon. This beautiful cut of meat is just too hard to resist due to the fact that it’s jammed packed with some of the most intense, delicious flavours known to man. It’s fatty drippings are a welcome addition to almost anything added into the pan and in my opinion, bacon should be included in every meal! Just kidding, but it’s just so darn good!

IMG_0508Photo Credit to Sebastien Bélanger-King.

I prefer a thick cut of bacon so that it can withstand the oven or, when cooked in a skillet, the high searing temperatures. My absolute favorite place to buy bacon is at the Atwater Market located in the St. Henri district of Montreal. The butchers store is called Boucherie de Tours and it is located inside the building, close to the Premiere Moisson. They have the best bacon I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. You can chose how many strips you’d like to take home and their bacon is of a very reasonable price. This butcher also has a vast selection of beef, veal, lamb, chicken, and other specialty meats. I highly suggest that everyone should experience these delicious products at least once in their lifetime. This particular batch was cooked up in a cast iron and added into bacon pancakes!

Classy Caprese Salad

One of my very favourite salads contains only three delicious ingredients: the caprese salad. It is so simple and fast to whip up but packs a big punch of flavour. About a year back I discovered a way to prepare and present this salad in a classy manner to my friends. Let me say this, they loved the presentation (and also the flavours) so if you’re looking to impress your guests with a light and healthy appetizer, then this flavourful salad is going to knock their socks off! It is quick to prepare, very colourful, and gives your palate a tasty treat.

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Ingredients:

– Large, firm Italian tomatoes

– One container of buffalo mozzarella cheese

– Handful of basil leaves

– 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

– 2 tbsp of olive oil

– Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Begin by washing basil leaves and set aside.

2. Wash the tomatoes and removing the top bit (where the stem is located).

3. This is the tricky part. Place the tomato on the cutting board so that it is lying on it’s side. Slowly slice into the tomato along the slim side, cutting every 5cm,  but be careful not to cut all the way through. You want the tomato to hold together.

4. Drain the buffalo mozzarella and slice into thin rounds.

5. Place your tomato on your serving dish to begin assembly. Carefully insert a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf into each of the cuts on the tomato. Drizzle some olive oil and balsamic over top and season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy your stunning, healthy, and delicious appetizer!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

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Carrot cake is one of my guilty pleasures. I personally am not a huge fan of dessert, which is kinda weird I must admit. I rarely crave chocolate or sweets. I’m more of a salt girl, as I tend to crave cheeses or salty chips, crackers and dips. However, there is something special about this carrot cake that keeps me coming back for more.

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The first time I tried this cake, it automatically became the best carrot cake I had ever had. My mom made it one Sunday morning, and since that day I can’t go back to other recipes. This one is just too good! The pineapples really add a special something to the taste, keeping it moist and giving it a flavour kick. Also, the icing is to die for! Super simple, but also incredibly smooth and creamy. This carrot cake recipe is a keeper!

Ingredients:

(Adapted from Canadian Living)

– 1 cup all-purpose flour

– 1 cup whole wheat flour

– 2 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 2 tsp cinnamon

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1/2 tsp nutmeg

– 1/2 cup granulated sugar

– 3/4 cup brown sugar

– 3 eggs

– 1/2 cup vegetable oil

– 2 cups grated carrot

– 1 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained

– 1 tsp vanilla

– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Icing:

– 1 package low fat cream cheese (250g)

– 1/4 cup butter, softened

– 1/2 tsp vanilla

– 1 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

1. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, in a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs with the sugars, oil, and vanilla until fully incorporated.

3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just moistened.

4. Add in the carrots, pineapple, and walnuts.

5. Spread mixture into a 9X13 in. greased pan and bake for 40 minutes at 350°F.

Icing:

1. Add room temperature cream cheese to a mixer with the butter. Mix until smooth.

2. Add in the vanilla and a small amount of icing sugar at a time until desired consistency is obtained.

* Wait till the cake is cooled before icing. If the carrot cake is not served right after icing, make sure to keep the cake refrigarated. It should last around 5 days in the refridgerator.

Super-Duper Healthy Bran Muffins

Waking up at 7am for work seems to be a challenge for me every morning. I will somehow end up snoozing until 7:45 only to realize that I need to leave for work in a half hour. This time crunch would leave me with little or no time to grab anything remotely filling for breakfast, which would result with me having an empty stomach for most of the morning. If you feel the same way in the morning then have I got the perfect morning grab-and-go breakfast for you!

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This recipe contains no sugar, no butter, and no white flour. These delicious, healthy, whole grain muffins are simple but can be combined with many different combinations of flavours to spice them up each time you make them. This recipe features blueberries, giving these muffins a burst of sweetness when biting into them.

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Ingredients:

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1 cup bran flakes

– 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

– 1/4 tsp cinnamon

– 2 large handfuls of blueberries

– 1 egg

– 1/2 cup honey

– 3/4 milk

– 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Directions:

1. Stir all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

2. Beat the egg in a separate bowl and slowly whisk in the milk, honey, and oil until incorporated.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until a batter forms.

4. Add in the blueberries and stir gently.

5. Spoon the batter into a muffin tin, either greased or lined with muffin papers, until about 3/4 full.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. Let cool, then slather a light layer of butter right on top of these delicious healthy treats!

Options. Substitute the blueberries for:

~Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

~Raisins

~Shredded Carrots and Diced Apples

~Banana

Yummy Shrimp Rolls

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During the summer months I love to grab a delicious lobster roll and sit out in the sun to enjoy it. On the downside, lobster is quite expensive so I thought up a great alternative and used rock shrimp, which is much cheaper! This recipe surprised me when I first attempted it, in that it was so easy and quick to make but still gave you that feeling of a tasty beachside, ocean meal.

Ingredients

– 1 pound rock shrimp
– Hot dog buns
– Handful of lettuce, chopped
– 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
– Butter for buttering the buns
– 2 tablespoons of chives
– 1 lemon, for juicing
– Salt and pepper

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Directions

1. Combine rock shrimp, mayonnaise, the juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Make sure to be gentle when stirring so that the shrimp stay in one piece.

2. Chop the chives into small bits and incorporate into the shrimp mixture.

3. Spread butter on both sides of the hot dog buns and toast until golden brown in a pan or on the BBQ.

4. Fill each bun with the delicious shrimp filling and enjoy this classic seaside treat!

Pumpkin Muffin Tops

Muffins are one of the tastiest and simplest baked goods that you can let yourself get creative with. Whenever I make myself a good batch of muffins I find that the most delicious part is the top. As summer slowly changes into fall and the temperature gently drops, I seem to find myself in the kitchen more often. With it being fall and all, I decided to explore cooking with pumpkin! I found a great little recipe for pumpkin cookies but decided to adapt it to make muffin tops.

This recipe creates moist, extremely fluffy muffin tops with the distinct flavor of pumpkin and cinnamon. These delicious treats are simple and easy to make, with their distinct fall flavors and sweet glaze.

Pumpkin Muffin Tops

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking power
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Crushed walnuts (optional, but delicious)

Sweet glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp butter

Directions

– Preheat the oven to 350.

– In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together until creamy.

– Stir pumpkin puree, egg and vanilla into mixture until well incorporated.

– In a separate bowl, mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt). Slowly stir flour mixture into wet ingredients until blended (if you decide to use walnuts, add them right at the end).

– Drop tablespoon portions of muffin top mixture onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

– Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let these bad boys cool on a metal rack while you prepare the sweet glaze.

– GLAZE: Melt the butter then add milk, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar. Stir until well blended then drizzle over the delicious, festive muffin tops. ENJOY!

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Rustic Apple Pie

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There is nothing like the smell of fresh apple pie straight out of the oven. This yummy smell reminds me of the first time I attempted to bake this delicious treat. When I was very young, I made my first apple pie from scratch. It was my mom who first showed me how to dice the apples, roll out the dough, and bake this glorious pie but let me tell you, I am now the pie crust master.

The recipe below is the same one I have been following since I was 10 years old. It’s from a very old edition of a Betty Crocker cookbook that my mom has now passed down to me (I think the publishing date is from the early 1970’s) where the finishing result is far superior than any other pie recipe that I’ve previously baked. The end result is a flaky, delicious crust with a flavorful burst of apple filling.

Ingredients:

Pie Crust

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 4-5 tablespoons of cold water

Filling

  • 7-8 McIntosh apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

Directions:

Filling

Begin by peeling and coring the apples, then dicing into cubes.

Place the apples in a medium sized bowl and toss with flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt till all the apples are well coated.

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While you are making the pie crust, the apples will have time to marinate in their delicious spice coating.

Pie Crust

Combine the flour and salt in a medium size bowl and add the shortening. Using two knives, cut the shortening into the flour until the mixture is about the size of small peas. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough forms a ball.

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Split the dough into two equal portions. Wrap one portion in cellophane and place it in the fridge. Sprinkle a dusting of flour across a work surface and proceed to roll out the second portion of dough to form a 10-inch circle.

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Carefully transfer the rolled dough into a pie plate. A handy trick that will keep the dough from tearing is to roll it back up around the rolling pin, then transfer and unroll over the pie plate. Using your fingers, push the dough firmly into the pie plate so no air remains underneath and trim any excess dough from the sides.

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Add the apple filling and top with bits of butter.

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Repeat the same process for the second portion of dough, rolling it out and transferring it directly on top of the apple filling. Again, use your fingers and pinch the dough along the rim to form a seal. Trim any excess dough.

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Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, use a knife to cut 3 slits into the top of the pie allowing the steam to escape while baking. Cover the crust of the pie with a small amount of aluminum foil for the first 35 minutes of baking to ensure that it doesn’t burn.

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Cook the apple pie for 45-50 minutes and remove the aluminum foil from the crust for the last 15 minutes. Let the pie cool and serve with some delicious ice cream for dessert!

Weekend Getaway

The weekend of May 11th, my boyfriend and I took a trip up to Mont-Tremblant, Quebec for his 23rd birthday. I wanted that weekend to be special so I decided that we should both endulge in a mini vacation where the both of us took the Monday off from work. We stayed two nights (Saturday and Sunday) at the hotel Quintessence, and let me tell you this hotel does not disappoint! It was hands down the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in with excellent service and spectacular rooms. However, I must warn you the price per night is a little on the high side (I was lucky enough to obtain gift certificates from my parents in order to be able to enjoy such a luxurious experience).

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The hotel is located on Mont-Tremblant Lake where each room has the most beautiful view of the sunset. The staff is very attentive and will accommodate your every need. Whether it be a quick bite to stifle a hungry belly or perhaps you’re missing champaign flutes for a celebration; anything that you need can be brought right to your room in record time.

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Our room was magnificent! It had an exquisite open floor plan with a huge exposed soaker tub. There was a king size bed that faced a wood burning fireplace and there was even a sitting area! Here are some pictures to show just how spectacular it was.

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I highly recommend booking your own getaway at the quintessence for a special occasion or relaxing weekend of your own!

Lobster Rolls!

It’s finally lobster season!

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When I heard that it was lobster season I got very excited because for a limited time only lobster is affordable! To celebrate this delicious festival, I thought it would be most appropriate to make an amazing dinner that would let the delicate taste of lobster shine through. Lobster rolls were the perfect dish, as they showcase the lobster meat perfectly using only other subtle flavors that work in balance and which are not too overpowering.

I bought my lobsters at the grocery store pre-cooked to save some preparation time. However, I must give you a warning when making this scrumptious meal. It does require some time and physical effort when removing the lobster meat from the shell (you will need a lobster cracker). If this step doesn’t phase you then please purchase some lobsters right away and begin cooking!

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized lobsters, cooked
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 stock of celery, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Handful of chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 large leaves of romaine lettuce
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 4 plain hot dog buns

Directions:

Begin by removing all the lobster meat from their shells with a lobster cracker (this step might be a bit time consuming).

Break the lettuce leaves into two large chunks. Spread butter along the inside of each hot dog bun then line the buns with the lettuce leaves.

Mix all other ingredients together then add the lobster. Stir carefully until well combined.

Fill each bun with the lobster mixture, top with chives, and enjoy these delicious rolls! As a serving suggestion, plate with a side of potato chips or salad.

http://instagram.com/p/Zb7xcsv3tO/

Beer Marinated Chicken Burgers

The month of May marks the one year anniversary of owning my own condo. The past year has been one of the best years of my life, but also one of the most challenging. Living in my beautiful new home has been a huge adjustment, not only because I have many new responsibilities, including a new job working in a bank, but because I am now living with my boyfriend. It was a huge change when we decided to move in together, as it involved a lot of compromising and getting used to each others habits. However, I must say that it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. As per my new home and location, I have been adjusting quite well to living by the canal and have been taking advantage of all the restaurants and quaint boutiques that are in the nearby vicinity! The Atwater Market is just 5 minutes away, meaning fresh and local produce are readily available for my creativity in the kitchen. This summer I plan on having a garden out on the patio that will include a variety of herbs that would make excellent additions to salads and summer meals.

The warm weather is finally arriving and that means barbeque season has arrived! I have recently acquired my very own barbeque and I can’t seem to get enough of it during the summer months. I basically cook anything I can on the grill, as I find there is just a glorious taste that emerges from slightly charred food that is cooked in the outdoors. My boyfriend taught me an amazing trick for cooking chicken on the barbeque where it always turns out to be so deliciously juicy! Here is a recipe for scrumptious chicken burgers that are tender and flavorful.

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts (quantity depending on the amount of guests, I used one per guest)
  • 1 bottle of beer (any kind can be used, but preferably dark beer)
  • Flat bread buns
  • Avocado
  • Lime
  • 1 red onion
  • Local brie cheese, double creme
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Mayonnaise
  • Spice rub (cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper)

Directions:

First step is to marinate the chicken in beer. Score both sides of the breast with a knife and place the chicken in a bowl deep enough to allow the beer to just cover it. Marinating for 30 minutes or more (in the fridge) will tenderize the chicken and keep it moist.

While the chicken is marinating, chop the avocado into small wedges and toss it in lime juice to add flavor and to prevent it from turning brown.

Cut up the red onion into rounds, then toss in oil with salt and pepper. Keep aside, ready to be barbequed.

Cut thick slices of local brie and keep aside.

Mix all spices together in a small ramekin then remove the chicken from the fridge and drain all liquid. Sprinkle the spices evenly over the chicken breasts and rub till well incorporated.

Five minutes before grilling, pre-heat the barbeque to medium-high.

Oil the grill then add chicken and close the lid. Check after 5 minutes then flip the breasts carefully and close the lid for another 3 minutes or until cooked through. At the same time, grill the onions until tender.

Add the buns to the grill for around a minute each side until heated.

Remove the chicken and let it rest for 2 minutes. This is a very important step to ensure the moisture is locked in by allowing all the juices to settle.

Time to build the burger! Add the chicken breast, brie cheese, baby spinach, and grilled red onion to the bun. Top with some mayo, avocado and a splash of lime. Hope you enjoy!