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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

White and Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

My friend Melly first made these insanely awesome cookies back in the day when I lived close to her place.  She use to feed me about 3x a week.  She'd only bake with the best ingredients, so when it came to cookies, it HAD to be white chocolate Tolberones and Dark Lindt.  Now that I'm spoiled, I refuse to make cookies with any thing else.  If there was cocoa powder in the recipe, it had to be Valrhona brand (at $14.50 a 250g box, it was pricey)...and she makes the meanest chocolate bundt cake around, but that's another story for another time.  In any case, stock up on Toblerones and Lindt right after Christmas.

These are definitely one of the more chocolate infused cookies out there.  Nick loves cookies.  I love chocolate. The cookie dough is really just a vehicle to hold on to the chocolate.  I usually make them in large batches and freeze most of them so that Nick and bake up fresh cookies whenever he wants.

The ingredients
Cookie crumble batter
Close up of raw cookie crumble

Raw cookie dough ready for the freezer
Freshly baked cookies

White and Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
makes approximately 62 cookies
approx prep time: 45min
approx cook time: 10min


4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour loosely packed
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
250g of chopped Lindt bittersweet dark chocolate
200g of chopped white chocolate Toberlone

How to:

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Sift together the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.

2) In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth.

3) Beat in the eggs and vanilla, until well blended. Gradually stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chunks by hand using a wooden spoon.

4) Mold cookies into 2 inch rounds.  At this point, you can either bake them or freeze them.  As you can see, I've frozen all of mine on a baking sheet lined with parchment before bagging into freezer bags.

5)  If baking:  Place each cookie dough round 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

6) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges are light brown. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.  If baking from frozen, it 10-12 minutes depending on cookie size and oven variances (it takes 11 minutes in my oven).  Don't over bake, or they won't be soft and chewy.

Modified from original recipe here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Slow cooked Roast Beef

Serves: 6
approx prep time: 10min
approx cook time: 7 hours

Super simple, fall apart, roast beef done in the slow cooker. Great for hot sandwiches, or served with rice or potatoes.

- Roast of your choice (We used a Sirloin roast for this one) approx. 4lbs
- Schwartz's Steak & Beef spice (from Schwartz's Deli in Montreal, which can also be ordered online at Or for an easier to get solution, you can use Montreal Steak Spice)

- Rub all sides of the roast generously in seasoning.
- Place the roast in the slow cooker, along with approx 2tbsp of water.
- Cook on low for 7-8 hours (7 hours for a roast 4lbs or less, and 8 hours for a 4-6lbs roast).
- Do not open the lid of the slow cooker while cooking, or until ready to serve.
- Slice and serve immediately.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Slow cooked BBQ Ribs

serves: 5
approx prep time: 5min
approx cook time: 7hours

A super simple BBQ ribs recipe, that makes delicious fall off the bone ribs! You'll need a slow cooker/crock pot for this one.

- 3 racks of pork side ribs.
- 1 bottle of your favourite BBQ sauce. We use Diana Original BBQ sauce.

- Cut ribs into chunks of roughly 3 to 5 bones each.
- Layer ribs in slow cooker, adding a bit of BBQ sauce between each layer.
- Pour a bit of extra BBQ sauce on top of the last ribs.
- Cook in the slow cooker on low for 7 hours.
- When serving, drizzle a little bit of BBQ sauce on the ribs as soon as they come out of the slow cooker.

NOTE: If cooking the ribs from frozen, thaw them for 12 hours in the fridge first, and adjust the cooking time to be 2 hours on High, followed by 5 hours on low.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baked Potato Wedges

"These are the best fries ever!" quoted by Nick's nephew.  They definitely are, crispy and crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, they are a hit with adults and children alike.  The best part is....they couldn't be simpler! 

approx prep time: 5min
approx cook time: 40min

These are a quick and easy french fry substitute, and they taste great!

- Russet Potatoes (1/2 to 1 potato per person)
- Coarse Salt (Sea Salt works well)
- Ground Pepper
- Olive or Vegetable oil

- Pre-Heat oven to 425F
- Cover a baking sheet generously in oil
- Cut potatoes into quarters (Be sure to wash them throughly first!).
- Roll potatoes in oil until well covered on all sides.
- Stand potatoes on the skin side, on the baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 40min, turning 3 or 4 times, so that each side gets at least 10min touching the pan and in the leftover oil.
- Serve right out of the oven!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

Scenario:  It's a gloomy Sunday morning, the grey skies cause us to sleep in undisturbed by light, alarm clocks, or annoying fire alarms, and we accidentally wake up at 11am.  The time for breakfast is long over, I mean, even McDonald's stop serving breakfast at 11am, but we're hungry!  What do we do? 

Sunday brunches have long been my favourite occasions.  Past brunches we've made waffles and french toast, but today Nick craved pancakes.  So I went to make them.  Well...I made the batter, and Nick cooked them...I can't take all the credit. 

The buttermilk + baking soda + baking powder made them the lightest, fluffy pancakes we've ever had!  It's not too bad for you either health wise, as the entire recipe only has 2 tablespoons of butter, and if you use a good non-stick skillet, you don't even have to grease the pan. 

This is definitely a Sunday brunch staple from now on.  Served with ripe pineapple, raspberries, blackberries and thick sliced crispy bacon...they make any gloomy day brighter. 

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

Serves: 4
makes approximately 22 (3 inch wide) pancakes
approx prep time: 10min
approx cook time: 10min


1 cup of buttermilk + a bit more for adjustment
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 mixing bowls (small and large)

How to: 

1)      Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small mixing bowl.

2)      Whisk egg and melted butter into 1 cup of buttermilk into the large mixing bowl.

3)      Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.  If the batter looks too thick to pour, add more buttermilk until it is a pourable pancake mixture texture.

4)      Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat.  Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side. 

Serve immediately, with a pat of butter and maple syrup, and side of bacon and fruit.

Modified from original recipe here. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bacon Nachos!

Serves: 4
approx prep time: 15min
approx cook time: 10min

- 1 Bag nacho chips (I used Tostitos Rounds)
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 6-8 strips of thick sliced bacon, cooked then diced
- 3 Green onions, diced (extra small)
- 1 red pepper, diced

- Pre heat the oven to 350F.
- In a large oven safe dish, layer about a third of the chips, sprinkle with roughly a third of each of the toppings (peppers, onions, bacon, and cheese).
- Layer half of the remaining chips ontop. Cover that layer with half the remaining toppings.
- Finally layer on what's left of the chips, and finish off with the last of the toppings. You may want to sprinkle the top layer with a little extra cheese for show.
- Bake for approx. 10min, until the top layer of cheese is just starting to brown.
- Server straight out of the oven with or without salsa and/or sour cream!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hidden Rose Apples

Nick found these at Longos the other day.  At about $1.20 an apple, they weren't cheap, but the allure of having a green apple on the outside, but a pink hue on the inside, was alluring. 

Apparently Hidden Rose Apples are only available in November and possibly December.   They have the same texture as a Granny Smith apple,  the taste is a little different.  Some say they taste like Strawberry Lemonade but I didn't experience that at all, it was tart and sweet at the same time, more so then a granny smith.  The rose colour was fun to see and eat.  A friend of mine that tried it with me mentioned it reminded her of a poisoned apple from the Snow White fairytale. 

Apparently these Hidden Rose Apple® is patented, trademarked and registered exclusively by Dragonberry Produce Inc. located in Clackamas, Oregon.  They are only harvested once in late October.  They are grown organically, and no pesticides are ever used.  They also scar easily, so only 40-50% of apples are blemish free to be shipped to your the grocer. 

Interesting apple, it's definitely fun to eat....I wonder how they would do if cooked, in a crumble, or a pie.  I think they would give a great colour to smoothies and such as well (though I think it's a bit of a waste.)

Have you tried these?  I think Longos would still have them.  Have you found them in other grocery stores?

(edit: actually posted by Cindy,  it just says Nick because he added the picture)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

Serves: 4-6
approx prep time: 20min
approx cook time: Filling: 10min, Peppers: 30min

- Green (Or red/orange/yellow) Peppers
- 1.5 cups white rice
- 1tsbp butter
- 3-4 Chorizo sausages
- 2-3 Green onions
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- approx. 1.5 cups of Tomato or meat sauce of your choice... I'll post the recipe for my home made, slow cooked meat sauce soon!

- Cook the rice according to the directions on the package (For plain white rice this should be: 1.5 cups rice, 2.5 cups water, 1tbsp butter, bring to a boil, reduce temp and cook covered for 20min).
- Cut the tops off the peppers and save the tops for later. Clean out the inside of the peppers to make room for the filling.
- Soak the peppers in a sink or bowl full of hot water for about 5min.
- Pre-heat oven to 350C.
- Dice onions and remaining pieces of pepper.
- Remove sausages from casing, and break into small chunks.
- Bring a large frying pan to temperature over medium heat.
- Brown the green onions in Olive oil slightly.
- Add sausage chunks and brown those as well.
- Add green pepper chunks and cook covered for 2-3min.
- Reduce stove to low heat.
- Add rice, 3/4 cup of sauce, and 1/4 cup of shredded cheese
- Mix well.
- Place peppers standing in an oven safe dish or pan.
- Stuff peppers with mix, top with 1/5th cup of sauce per pepper, and sprinkle with shredded cheese.
- Bake at 350C. for 25-30min.
- Serve right away.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Breakfast at Raffles Cafe Las Vegas

Food at a Las Vegas conference is disappointing to downright disgusting sometimes. After 6 years of the same yearly conference, I've learned to not even bother going to eat at a conference and just spend the extra money and dine out.

Since Raffles Cafe at Mandalay Bay was close by, myself and my coworker decided to head there for breakfast.

We shared:

Custard french Toast
This was MASSIVE, it was 2 slices of light and fluffy toast that was about 8x8x2 inches with custard filling and then dipped in egg and pan fried. It was really good.  I need to make this at home.

Raffles Exotic Coconut Pancakes
This was okay, it had coconut and mango on it.

Normal - but always a tasty side.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Roasted Rack of Lamb

We've had a frozen New Zealand rack of lamb sitting in the freezer for quite sometime, and every week we SAY we are having lamb, but then we forget. Finally we got to it.

We've had a frozen New Zealand rack of lamb sitting in the freezer for quite sometime, and every week we SAY we are having lamb, but then we forget. Finally we got to it.

I found this recipe on Allrecipes with a 5 star rating, and I've made some modifications. Since it's the 2nd time I've ever cooked rack of lamb (the first time did not turn out that well), I was a little worried. However, this recipe is super simple. I used 1lb rack of lamb and it took 12 mins in the oven, 2 racks would be about 14 minutes. They turned out perfectly, I took them out of the oven when the internal temperature was 135 degrees F and let them sit for 5 mins so it could continue cooking internally before I sliced them up. I'm a big fan of lamb, so I'd definitely make this again. I served it with blanched asparagus and rice.

Roasted Rack of Lamb

Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 40 Minutes
Servings: 2

1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (1lb 8 bone) rack of lamb, trimmed and
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons grainy tarragon mustard

1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Move oven rack to the center position.
2.In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic, rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss in 2 tablespoons olive oil to moisten mixture. Set aside.
3.Season the rack all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy oven proof skillet over high heat. Sear rack of lamb for 1 to 2 minutes on all sides. Set aside for a few minutes. Rub rack of lamb with the mustard. Roll in the bread crumb mixture until evenly coated. Cover the ends of the bones with foil to prevent charring.
4.Arrange the rack bone side down in the skillet. Roast the lamb in preheated oven for 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the degree of doneness you want. With a meat thermometer, take a reading in the center of the meat after 10 to 12 minutes and remove the meat, or let it cook longer, to your taste. Let it rest for 5 to 7 minutes, loosely covered, before carving between the ribs.

Comments: Allow internal temperature to be 5 to 10 degrees less than you like because the meat will continue to cook while it sits. Bloody rare: 115 to 125 degrees F Rare: 125 to 130 degrees F Medium rare: 130 to 140 degrees F Medium: 140 to 150 degrees F

Note: Cindy cooked this time, not Nick. :-D This is a rare occurrence that should be observed no more then 4 times a year, so it's super special every time. :-)

If I didn't say I did it, then Nick cooked, I ate.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Aureole Restuarant Las Vegas

Executive Summary: Las Vegas, where everything thing is bigger then life....except for Aureole's Charlie Palmer Parallel tasting menu.

Cost: $85 a person for a 4 course tasting menu.

My notes:
The dishes, as with most tasting menus, were small, but this was the Parallel menu, each course was actually 2 dishes! It doesn't look big, but my friend and I were both very full by the end of the meal. While this was a nice tasting menu, I preferred the prix fixe in the Fleur De Lys restaurant also at the Mandalay Bay right next to Aureole. I wasn't really excited by any of these dishes, they weren't very unique, I didn't think these well artistic or well presented, and their use of heavy sauces on the meats detracted from the delicate flavour and texture especially in the Australian Wagu beef. The desserts were also sub par, the sorbet was the best thing there, and that compliments of the chef. For $85 a person, you can stand to do much better then Aureole, especially in the culinary epicenter in Las Vegas.

Here's some photos off my Blackberry Bold.








SORBET tray - complements of the chef, with a thin slice of dehydrated pineapple.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

15.4lbs Halloween Candy Stash

No....we didn't get this from Trick or Treating on Halloween (we were too busy scaring kids on Halloween). :-P We bought this after halloween, some from halloween, some from Vegas. We weighed it, without the Loblaws bin, it weighs 15.4lbs.

There's 15.4lbs of plastic wrappers and candy/chocolate. More plastic then candy. Crazy. :-P

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicken Vegetable Stir Fry

Yummy and simple! There are 8 vegetables in this chicken stir fry.


chicken breast
sweet white onions
yellow bell pepper
string beans
sugar snap peas
bean sprouts
Montreal chicken spice
Club house vegetable seasoning

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Beef and Red pepper pasta.

Serves: 2
approx prep time: 5min
approx cook time: 10min

1 lbs ground beef
4 slices genoa salami
2 green onions
1 red pepper
1.5 cups shell pasta (or other pasta of your choice)
1 tspb olive oil
1/2 cup old cheddar cheese, shredded
Club House Vegetable seasoning (approx. 1tbsp)
Seasoned salt (2-3 shakes)

small pot
frying pan with lid
stirring spoon
cutting board
chopping knife

- Start water boiling for the pasta.
- Chop pepper, onions, salami, and grate cheese.
- Heat frying pan on medium heat, adding olive oil when warm. Add pasta to boiling water.
- Brown onion and beef in pan, along with vegetable seasoning and seasoned salt.
- Add chopped red pepper, salami when beef is browned.
- Drain pasta and add to frying pan with meat and veggies when ready. Stir together.
- Sprinkle with shredded cheese, stir together, serve.