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Monday, March 28, 2011

The Home Made Double Down

KFC has a pseudo sandwich called "The Double Down", a bread-less sandwich described as "bacon, two different kinds of melted cheese, the Colonel’s 'secret' sauce... pinched in between two pieces of Original Recipe chicken fillets."  They brought it to Canada on October 18, 2010, but just a short month later, took the product off Canadian markets.  The Double Down's 540 calories, 30 grams of fat, 1,740 milligrams of sodium left most Canadians (well, at least my friends that have tried it), with intense headaches from overdosing on salt. 

Since neither Nick nor I had the chance to try the double down in Canada for the short time it was here, the thought of 2 crispy chicken fillets with cheese and good bacon sounded so good and bad for us that we had to try to make it for ourselves.  Here is our homemade Double Down, with a heck of a lot less salt, and a heck of a lot more flavor.  :-)

Serves: 1
approx prep time: 15min
approx cook time: 10min

- 2 fried chicken breasts. Using the recipe here.
- 2 or 3 strips of bacon
- 1/4 cup grated Mozzarella cheese

- Before making the fried chicken (Recipe Here), fry up 2 or 3 strips of bacon and set aside
- Shred 1/4 cup of Mozzarella cheese, and set aside.
- Make the two pieces of Fried Chicken. When finished let them rest on paper towel for 30-40 seconds before making the sandwich.
- Using the fried chicken pieces as bread, stuff with bacon and Cheese.
- Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Double Dipped Raspberries

Well, it's about time for another chocolate dipped thing.  To me, white and dark chocolate dipped raspberries are the ultimate king of chocolate dipped fruits.  Raspberry is just such a great compliment to both a creamy white chocolate, and a good dark chocolate.  When it comes to this kind of dessert, you really get what you put into it.  Pick fresh firm raspberries and really good dark and white chocolate.  I recommend Godiva white chocolate, and a Lindt or Valrhona dark chocolate for dipping.  What is the key to making these look pretty and presentable?  Having chopstick skills!  :-P  Yes, without chopstick skills you can still use your hands, but it may be a bit messier.

Double Dipped Raspberries
approx prep time: 10min
approx chill time: 20min

70g of Lindt Bittersweet Dark Chocolate Bar (approx 8-10 pieces)
1.5 bars of 43g mini bar (6 pieces) of Godiva white chocolate
1 quarter pint of raspberries
1 pair of chopsticks (optional)

1) Line a large plate or baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper
2) Break dark chocolate bar into chunks and crumble into a small bowl.  Microwave dark chocolate 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30 second interval, until chocolate is just melted and smooth (do not overheat, chocolate can burn).
3) Dip one side of the raspberry into chocolate and place on wax paper.  Using chopsticks makes the least mess or you can use your hands, but they won't turn out as clean or pretty.
4) Put in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or until the dark chocolate has hardened.
5) Peel off the dark chocolate dipped raspberries and repeat steps 2-4 to dip the other side of the strawberry with white chocolate, shake off excess chocolate (or don't, if you like more chocolate).  :-)
5) Serve cold, don't let the dipped fruit come to room temperature.
6) Store leftovers (if there are any), in sealed containers in the refrigerator. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Canadian Burgers

Known as Canadian bacon in the US, in Canada, it is known as peameal bacon or back bacon.  It's delicious when made right, and like salted rubber jerky when made incorrectly.  To the rest of the world, they think back bacon is ham.  IT IS NOT HAM!  Back bacon refers to either smoked or unsmoked bacon cut from the boneless eye of pork loin.  Peameal bacon is back bacon, brined and coated in fine cornmeal.  I especially like my peameal bacon on a bun with a fried egg and cheese....however, paired with Nick's burger, it's adds a whole new dimension.
Serves: 2
approx prep time: 15min
approx cook time: 15min

INGREDIENTS (Makes 2 burgers): 
- 1lbs Lean ground beef
- 2 slices of Peameal Bacon
- 1 small white onion (or 1/2 of a large white onion)
- 1/4 cup Bacon Bits (Simulated, or small pieces of crumbled bacon)
- 2/3 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Toppings of choice (Pickles, Tomato, etc..)
- 2 large kaiser rolls

- Pan fry peameal bacon and set aside.
- Finely dice onion
- Mix ground beef, diced onion, bacon bits, and steak spice thoroughly
- Shape beef mixture into 2 patties, roughly 1" thick.
- Cook patties to desired doneness in a frying pan, on an indoor grill or BBQ.
- Serve patty with bacon, shredded cheese and desired toppings on fresh Kaiser roll.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beef and Veggie Pasta Bake

Baked pasta with crusty stringy cheese.  Totally simple to put together and hearty.  Unfortunately, it's almost mid-March, it's still snowing and freezing cold outside, so what could be better then staying in and the house filling with the aroma of baked pasta and cheese?  This should be an easy kid favorite, there's as much vegetables as there is pasta, but it's hidden under a layer of delicious cheese.  :-)  Heck, neither Nick and I are kids (we're still kids at heart though), and we still love this.  The leftovers are delicious reheated the next day as well. 

Serves: 8-10
approx prep time: 20min
approx cook time: 40min

- 2 cups leftover roast beef, diced/pulled or 1.5lbs ground beef, browned
- 1 package of Macaroni pasta (375g uncooked) - we used tri-colored pasta that worked quite well
- 3/4 to 1 bottle pasta sauce
- 1 red pepper
- 1 zucchini
- 1 large carrot, or 1 handful baby carrots
- 1 leek
- 2 bunches of green onions
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2tbsp Italian seasoning
- 3tbsp veggie seasoning
- 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan

- Dice all the vegetables into roughly 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks and set aside. Chop or press garlic into very fine pieces and set aside.
- Cook the pasta you're using, per the directions, until it's al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, saute the vegetables and garlic, along with the olive oil and vegetable seasoning in a fry pan, stirring often.
- Mix half the pasta sauce into the vegetables while still in the fry pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine meat, all the Parmesan cheese and 1 cup cheddar cheese.
- Add drained pasta, Italian seasoning, vegetables and 1 cup of cheese.
- Mix together thoroughly.
- Pour mixture into a large glass baking dish, making sure it's spread out evenly.
- Top the dish with the remaining cheese.
- Bake at 350F for 20min then broil for 3-4min to brown the cheese. Pay close attention to the oven while broiling to avoid burning the top.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen

Location: 3895 Saint-Laurent boulevard, Montréal, H2W 1X9

When in Montreal, we highly recommend that you have a Montreal smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz.  Schwartz is a famous Hebrew Delicatessen and they've been around forever.  It's one of those joints that look like a hole, but has a constant line-up of people out the door, no matter how cold, or windy or wet it is outside.  We went to this restaurant despite the 35km winds and -19 degree C weather in Montreal.  I know from now on ONLY to vacation in Montreal in the spring to fall, the winters are much too cold for me. 

As open the door to the restaurant and walk inside, you get a waft of amazing meat and spices smell.  We come here all the time.  Make sure you get your own plate, or else they charge a sharing fee of $3.  Here's what we got for dinner.  Note:  All of the plates are the same size, basically appetizer plates:

Smoked meat sandwich (medium fat) with mustard on light rye bread - $5.95
Montreal smoked meat is made from the chest of the cow, basically Brisket.  Brisket, when slow cooked, is absolutely amazing.  :-D  This is always the thing to get here, the smoked meat is steamed back to life and tender and moist.  I'm not a big fan of rye bread, but it does suit the sandwich, and mustard is always a must with a smoked meat sandwich. 
Nash with rye bread- $1.25
This was by far the cheapest thing on the menu.  I had always wondered what Nash was, and it turned out just to be thin pepperoni sausage.   It's not bad, I'd get it again if I need just a bit of extra food to fill up on.  We ordered them grilled, but they will give them to you cold and plain if you'd like.  It comes with 3 slices of light rye bread.
Giant Pickle - $1.75
The pickle does overtake the plate, but essential in enjoying the Montreal smoked meat.

Vinegar Coleslaw - $2.25
The coleslaw does come from a tub, but it's cold, fresh and crisp, a good compliment to the smoked brisket. 

This is definitely are must eat joints and cheap eat joints in Montreal and great on a budget.  They also have Schwartz beef and steak spice that you can take home with you for only $4 a bottle.  It's GREAT on slow cooked roasts, like our slow cooked roast beef (recipe HERE).  We use this spice quite often.  In fact, we just slow cooked a brisket with this spice and it was just heavenly!   This spice doesn't taste as good on steak though, only slow cooked roasts.  If you're not heading to Montreal anytime soon, you can actually call them and get them to ship smoked meat or spice to you.  It's pricier then eating it in the restaurant, but hey, if you can't go to Montreal....get Montreal to come to you.  :-)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Panago: Near perfect Pepperoni Pizza

Not every pizza is made equal.  Pizza Pizza has got to be one of the worst, eating their pizza is equivalent to eating a cardboard box and I'm sure the cardboard box is healthier.  Too bad Pizza Pizza is everywhere and cheap, so my company tends to feed customers that sad excuse of a pizza.  They also give me the second worst after lunch food coma (Indian food, all you can eat would be in first place).  After years of being fed that garbage, it's understandable why I told Nick that....I don't like pizza. 

But the boy likes pizza, so what can you do?  We walked by a Panago this summer and they had a large pepperoni pizza special for $9.  Nick went in and ordered it, I told him at most I'll have 1 slice.

The pepperoni pizza was pretty darn good, the crust was just the right thickness and chewiness, they did not skimp on the cheese or pepperoni, the pizza wasn't greasy, the tomato sauce had just the right tang.  I'm pretty sure I at least had 3 slices, while Nick devoured the rest of the pizza.  We went back to try fancier pizzas, but they never did compare the tasty regular pepperoni pizza.  We went back weekly till the end of the summer and sadly, the $9 promotion is over, it's $12 now....however we still get it occasionally and love it every time.

We've tried other types of pizzas from Panago, but the only pizza that is good at Panago is their pepperoni pizza.  Nick tried the Philly cheese steak pizza once and it was very very disappointing, there was almost no meat, it looked nothing like the advertising, basically cheese and cheese sauce pizza, which was so gross that he did end up throwing a lot of it out.  

All Panago pizzas comes with a free dip or shaker.  I always tend to get the chilli shaker as I like to douse my pepperoni pizza with chilli flakes.  :-)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Beef Stew Mini Pies

Any reason is a good reason to use the Breville mini pie maker.  It' makes picture perfect mini pies in 10 minutes, so what could be better?  :-D  I've yet to do a sweet pie with the Breville pie maker, but savory pies with the leftovers beef stew is just the thing on a cold night.  If you prefer Mini Chicken Pot Pies, check out this recipe HERE.  Enjoy!  :-)
Beef Stew Mini Pies
Makes 3 Mini Pies (machine has the ability to make 4 pies)
approx prep time: 10min
approx cook time: 10min

- 1/2 pack of Pillsbury Pie crust (at room temperature)
- 2 cups of cooked beef stew leftovers leftovers (recipe HERE)

1) Preheat the Breville Mini Pie Maker (Red light means it's heating, Green light means it's ready)
2) Take out beef stew, and cut any large chunks in the stew into smaller 1/2 inch cubes (such as potatoes)
3) Roll out the Pillsbury pie crust, stamp 2 bottom crusts and 2 top crusts. 
4) Recombine the remaining pie crust, roll it out thinly, and stamp the last bottom and pie crust (you should have 3 tops and 3 bottoms)
5) Place bottom crust into the machine, use the black push wedge from the pie maker to set it into the pan, fill each pie up to the top with beef stew and a bit more, making a mound on the top.  (You need really over full filled pies in order for the top crust to brown and cook evenly, otherwise the crust can get undercooked because it doesn't fully touch the top heating element.)
6) Top pies with the top crust.
7) Lock machine, bake for 9-10 minutes.
8) Serve immediately.