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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Condensed Cooking

It turns out I have been out of the kitchen for far too long. When I went back to make slow-cooker sticky chicken, I was shocked to find that my brown sugar had solidified into a rock-solid lump. Ack, I thought! To the internet! Internet suggested I put a wet paper towel over top of it in a bowl and microwave it. I was apprehensive to say the least. All it did was make the top part soft (and soggy) whereas the rest was still solid. Fail. I did get just enough for the recipe however and a little leftover for my next project.

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(The chicken is delicious, the recipe is an easy new go-to).

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I had been craving muffins, specifically oatmeal ones. I still had some applesauce kicking around the fridge and so it was settled: I would make applesauce cinnamon oatmeal muffins. I needed a snack for mornings when I would have to get up early anyways, perfect excuse. After making them I realized they loosely resembled horse food: apples and oats. They were good for healthy muffins, but nowhere near as good as a bad-for-you muffin.

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My sister had the house to herself for a few weeks while our mom was away in Poland. We took it as an opportunity to take over the kitchen/eat really bad. We wanted to make cut-out cookies and I knew just the recipe for them. I had a vanilla-almond sugar cookie recipe on my Board for a long time and I was looking for the occasion to make them. Turns out we were missing a staple ingredient: vanilla extract, and so we replaced it with rum extract because at least it still goes with almond right? We also got a little fancy with our cat shaped cookies and decorated them with Nutella before baking. The dough was a bit crumbly and hard to work with at first (especially if you refrigerate it, it needs to warm up to room temperature before you can roll it out). The cookies came out amazing, so delicious!!! The cutting out is a little bit labour intensive though, I prefer making dough balls, so much easier.

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For our last days of fun I could not resist making mini cheesecake bites. However, I had misread the recipe. I thought you were supposed to do half Greek yogurt, half cream cheese. Not Greek yogurt cream cheese (I know, I too have never heard of it). It turned out fine.  I also could not find any pre-made lemon curd so I opted for the next best thing: lemon pudding. It worked fine, no one complained. These are also rather labour-intensive but the healthy makeover more than makes up for it. Next time I will just make a big cheesecake and cut it into pieces.

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Brew With A View

Last weekend was the first nice weekend of the year, when you could go outside and not wonder if you should bring a scarf or sweater. As if we needed an excuse to go out for lunch on a best patio? It was so warm (hot really) that we went down to Against The Grain which is right on the waterfront. We were a little bit worried that the patio would be full, given the whole city was out and about, both for Doors Open and the weather.

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Thankfully we were seated in the shade, I had had just about enough of the sun frying my face. The patio had a nice view of the lake and even of the Toronto Islands which were surprisingly close. To start we split a plate of pork tacos. They were the overall winner. The turkey club sandwich was ok, but for some reason they did not heat up the turkey. The bread was crunchy and still a bit warm from over-toasting, which was a stark contrast to the cold (!) turkey. I did enjoy the mountain of fries though.

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Brent summed the patio up nicely: brew with a view. Against The Grain’s patio is best for lounging and sipping, the food wasn’t outstanding. The Arnold Palmer (lemonade and iced tea), now that was outstanding!

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Best Diner Patio- Take 2

Continuing in our trend of revisiting restaurants after our first attempt at eating on the patio fails, I managed to convince Brent to go out on a Tuesday instead of Wednesday, the sky was clear blue and it was boiling hot outside. Or I was still very out of it from having been sick all weekend (20+ hours of sleep and all I wanted was to sleep the next day). Plus they were calling for rain and thunder on the Wednesday. It was settled, we would go back to the best diner patio: Rosedale Diner (which is not as far as I had thought, turns out we took the long way last time by going down to Bloor).

I had been torn between getting the duck poutine and steak frites last time, leaving little question as to what I would order this time, steak frites, duh. We traded halfway but I was not having Brent’s bison burger. The meat was too bland, we traded back for the last few bites. For some reason there were shards of onion in my fries. The only good thing about the steak was the bites with sundried tomatoes (I know right, me? Liking tomatoes? Finding something improved when with them?!?).

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The patio was nice and secluded, it almost seemed like someone’s backyard. You could not hear the traffic of Yonge St back there. I wish we had somehow known to just order the hummus and pitas, that was the best item on the menu.

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I really hope patio season improves because so far the patios have been better than the food.

 

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Pizza Patio- Take 2

There is no better way to kick off the patio season than by back-tracking to previous fails- so long as the sun is shining and the weather is warm. That is unless there is a storm of epic proportions brewing inside of you. I was feeling awful, but I was also hungry and it was the first warm day of the year (as in you could go outside in a t-shirt and light sweater). F’Amelia was not that far of a walk (despite how far it felt in my sick state) for best patio to eat pizza.

I knew from last time to avoid any pizza that listed arugula as a topping, they are way too generous with the portions of it. This time I opted for the pizza that just had sausage and cheese, lest I end up with another salad pizza. It was nice to sit on the patio, munching my pizza in my downward-spiraling state, staring out at the street. It was nice until they turned on the overhead (it is a covered patio) heaters. Suddenly I was not sure if I was running a fever or if it was really possible to heat up the outdoors that quickly. At least there were no wasps, a common problem on patios.

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The pizza was OK, better than last time but still nothing outstanding. I would take better pizza on a crappier patio any day though.

 

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Lazy Friday

What better way to relax after a half-day at work than by going out for Mexican food and the best margaritas in the city? Best margarita had recently been updated and Playa Cabana Hacienda was the new winner, which is fine by me as it is closer to our place. I was not looking forward to the walk, having spent the day before shopping and having walked to work. But I sucked it up and thought of the delicious lunch that awaited me.

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We had made reservations the website, just in case. We got there and were the only people there- but it was a Friday at 2pm, so that is no surprise. Our server was nice enough to explain what everything on the menu was. He sold me on the daily special: pork being roasted on a grill/spit outside with a pineapple above. I almost stopped him right there, no need to tell me about anything else, just give me the pineapple meat taco!!!

After some deliberating we settled on the pineapple meat taco, a jerk lobster taco, braised pork taco and of course: nachos. These were no ordinary nachos however. We each got one tortilla (I think it was a tortilla, I will just assume) with chorizo, mole sauce, cheese and some more sauce. I somehow managed to get the super spicy sauce on the underside of my tongue and it hurt surprisingly. They were a frightful mess to eat, sauce everywhere.

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The pineapple meat taco was easily the greatest taco I have ever had. It was unbelievably good. So good in fact that rather than picking out the pineapple bits (in fact, I hate pineapple) I actually ate them. Happily.

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The other tacos were piled high, so high in fact that biting into them became difficult and I ended up with a massacred mess of taco on my plate and resorted to eating with a fork.

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Brent’s margarita was served with a straw, which rather defeats the purpose of the salted rim. It was indeed a delicious margarita, even moreso because it was not made with crushed ice, it was served over ice cubes. I still think my lime Jarrito’s soda was better, but that is just my love affair with soda. IMG_20140502_151623

 

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