Chicken Parmesan for two! Saturday brunch and early bird sushi at Noble Fish

Chicken ParmesanChicken Parmesan is one of my many favourite dinners.  It is filling and oh so satisfying.  You can make your own favourite tomato sauce or use my recipe.  However, a good quality Parmesan and mozzarella cheese is a must!  It gives this meal an over the top flavour and the cheeses give a melted deliciousness that is beyond compare.

I have wanted to use our fine china that we received as a wedding gift for a while now.  Chicken Parmesan seemed like the ideal gourmet dish to serve.  With a side of green peas and some sparkling apple juice in our wine glasses it was the perfect fancy Friday meal.  When we have our parents over for a dinner next I would definitely make this meal.Chicken Parmesan

Brooklyn Street Local -DetroitBrunch is a delightful way to spend a Saturday meal and so Jonathan, his co-worker Meg and I headed to Brooklyn Street Local in Detroit.  I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with a garden salad and Jonathan ordered the eggs Benedict.  Everything was scrumptious and the latte I ordered was tasty.  Next we headed to the Somerset Collection for some shopping.

For an early bird dinner we went to Noble Fish for sushi.  This sushi is the best I have ever had!  The fish is super fresh tasting and there isn’t any mayonnaise filler that sometimes comes in sushi.  My favourite are the salmon rolls and the spicy tuna rolls.  I could eat salmon everyday of the week and not get tired of it, so we also ordered salmon sashimi.  The restaurant is in the back of a grocery store with very few tables, but the atmosphere is fun and very serious about their sushi.Grilled Cheese at Brooklyn Street Local -DetroitEggs Benedict at Brooklyn Street Local -DetroitBrooklyn Street Local -DetroitSushi at Noble Fish - DetroitSushi at Noble Fish - DetroitSushi at Noble Fish - Detroit

Ingredients: 

Tomato Sauce

1 L tomato puree

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp oregano

2 tsp basil

2 tsp red wine vinegar

½ tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

2 chicken breasts, flattened

½ cup bread crumbs

½ tsp pepper

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

¼ cup melted butter

1 cup Galati cheese shredded (mozzarella)

¼ Parmesan cheese shredded

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Begin by making the sauce.  In a medium pan add olive oil, onions and garlic and sauté until onions are cooked.
  3. Add in oregano, basil, salt and pepper and stir for 1 minute until fragrant.
  4. Stir in tomato puree and red wine vinegar.
  5. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Next combine the breadcrumbs, pepper and Parmesan cheese in a bowl.
  7. Melt butter and then dip chicken into butter then breadcrumb minute.
  8. Add a small amount of canola oil to coat the fry pan.  Pan fry chicken at medium high temperature for 3 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy looking.
  9. In your baking dish add a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom.  Next place chicken in baking dish and sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan on top.  Add a layer of tomato sauce and then another layer of mozzarella and Parmesan.
  10. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
  11. Serve on top of spaghetti with green peas on the side.
  12. Enjoy.
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Pelee Island Winery and Birdie’s Perch

IMG_5325The long weekend gets even better – yesterday, Jonathan and I went for a tour of Pelee Island Winery.  We sampled a few new wines and learn a few things about how one of my favourite Ontario wines is made.  The tour started by tasting a few reds and whites of varying sweetness, flavours and age.  We even got to keep the wine glasses at the end as a fun keepsake.  Our favourite wine that we tasted was a new organic wine called Pelee Pure.  It was light, non acidic and perfect for a summer afternoon with some appetizers.

First in the tour they showed us the huge barrels that were used about forty years ago, imported from France made from French oak.  These barrels are fun to look at, but hard to keep clean.  Each time these wine barrels were emptied someone had to crawl into the barrel and scrape the insides clean so that the flavour would be perfect for the next batch of wine.  Currently, Pelee Island uses smaller oak barrels and giant stainless steel barrels to age, ferment and store its wine.  A fun fact that I learned about sparkling wine is the finer the bubbles the higher the quality of the sparkling wine.IMG_5306IMG_5307IMG_5313

IMG_5326At the side of the building there was a mini vineyard and pretty garden beds.  All of the grapes used in the wine are grown on the island.  Pelee Island was chosen to grow grapes primarily because it shares the same latitude as Northern California and Southern France.  Meaning a warm climate and longer growing season.  Pelee Island has 550 acres of vineyards and is Canada’s largest private estate.  You can also visit Pelee Island for wonderful bird watching, hiking and cycling.  There is a ferry that goes over to the island, but it only goes across twice per day.

IMG_5339After our wonderful tour Jonathan and I went for fish tacos at Birdie’s Perch.  Jonathan discovered this unique chip truck while writing for his weekly food column at CBC Radio Windsor.  He loved the food so much that he simply had to take me back to try the food.  The ingredients were fresh and delicious – the perch in the taco came from Lake Erie.  Jonathan also ordered a delicious Canadian treat – poutine!  Clearly because it’s delicious and to celebrate our Canada Day weekend.  On the top level of the bus there are tables, but since it was humid we opted for a shaded picnic table where there was a nice breeze.  It was a perfect ending for our day.  On the drive back we drove by many beautiful farms where farmers grow fresh produce.  Local produce always tastes better and can be a fun way to explore your surroundings.IMG_5340IMG_5337IMG_5346IMG_5344IMG_5342IMG_5323IMG_5303IMG_5300IMG_5297

Oatmeal Cookies – New Recipe!

One of my favourite cookies is the classic oatmeal cookie.  There are many different variations and ways to modify this recipe, I was browsing through the Martha Stewart website for ideas, but then I decided on my own recipe.  My tips and added touches to the classic oatmeal cookie are to add cinnamon, honey and butter!  The recipe makes about two dozen medium sized cookies or three dozen smaller cookies.  Really, two dozen is a perfect amount, and they will last about a week at room temperature in an air-tight container – if you don’t eat them first.  The best part about baking cookies versus store bought is that there are no preservatives and I know exactly what is in them (which is good when you have severe food allergies).

Freshly baked cookies have given the condo a warm delightful smell.  Baking is really what makes a place home – so now that I have made cookies in this condo, it is officially home.  Jonathan and I have many new kitchen utensils and a fancy toaster from Williams Food Equipment in Windsor.  The sign in front of the store says “The Candy Store for Cooks,” and it really lives up to its name.  I look forward to building a collection of even more kitchen gadgets and utensils.  For now, I have all the cooking tools I need and I am very excited to make Christmas cookies and many more recipes.

Jonathan and I are settled into the new condo and even the mantle is looking more like home, with a Christmas decoration, an engagement gift and some cards.  There are many Christmas decorations out in the stores and it makes it feel like there is not long before Christmas.  Jonathan’s parents gave us the reindeer and sleigh decoration, which is from Timeless Treasures in Windsor, next to Vito’s Pizzeria.  We had a wonderful lunch at Vito’s Pizzeria when my parents and Jonathan’s parents visited last weekend.  It was exciting to show off the new condo and some of the great restaurants in Windsor that we have discovered so far.

*Fun fact: Windsor Table Salt is from Windsor, Ontario (my new home!)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon Windsor salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour,
    baking powder, baking soda,
    cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt
    into a bowl. Beat butter and
    sugars until pale and fluffy. Mix
    in egg, vanilla, and honey, then flour
    mixture. Mix in oats.
  2. Using a 1 1/4-inch ice cream
    scoop (or 1 tablespoon), drop
    dough onto parchment-lined
    baking sheets, spacing each
    scoop about 2 inches apart. Bake
    until edges are golden, about
    12-14 minutes. (Mine took 13min)
  3. Let cookies cool on a wire rack.

Motor Burger Restaurant Review/ I promise to get some recipes up soon!

No, my blog isn’t dead it was just taking a break.  So, here it is back in full swing!

Deux Chevaux Burger

Recently, Jonathan and I went to the restaurant Motor Burger in Windsor Ontario.  Jonathan had been very interested in trying this place and had heard wonderful reviews.  The burger Jonathan ordered was rated the Reader’s Digest #1 Burger.  The Deux Chevaux burger is served on brioche buns with baby spinach and Kozlik’s Daily Dijon mustard.  In addition there is delicious melted Gruyère, red onions caramelized in Maudite beer and beautiful strips of smoked bacon to top it.  It was a truly delicious burger!  Reader’s Digest also posted a recipe, which we will be sure to make soon.  (The recipe is posted at the bottom of this page.)  Jonathan and I have been eating out a fair bit because of a lack of a kitchen for the moment.  However, there will be a kitchen November 1st, so I can start baking up a storm.

Jonathan and I have enjoyed Windsor so far, yesterday we walked along the beautiful waterfront.  Jonathan and I, also went for dinner at Mazaar’s, which serves absolutely amazing Lebanese food.  If you are in the area it is a must! Across the river from Windsor is Detroit, which we will be visiting this weekend for some shopping – oh, the benefits of being so close to the border!   We have been having absolutely beautiful fall days and the weather in Windsor is definitely warmer than Toronto.  Fall weather is my favourite, where you can wear a sweater and stroll around enjoying the fall leaves.  While exploring Windsor has been fun, I have been busy working on online courses, but I hope to make time for more blog posts.

Vampire Gingerbread men

There are so many recipes that I hope to try out in the near future.  Here are a few recipe ideas that I have found on Pinterest.  These vampire gingerbread men look absolutely irresistible for Halloween.  I will have to search the web and test out some new gingerbread recipes.  The quinoa casserole idea looks like classic comfort food.  I have tried a few quinoa recipes, but not too many.  My sister Laura, loves quinoa, she also bought a new cookbook that has some scrumptious recipes that I am excited to try.  These are not my pictures, but when I try the recipes out at some point, I will post my thoughts on the recipe, and let you know if I have made any modifications.

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Deux Chevaux Burger Recipe

Ingredients

2/ 3 cup (150 mL) Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp (25 mL) balsamic vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
2 lb (1 kg) medium ground grade AA Canadian beef chuck and/or brisket
½ tsp (2 mL) salt

Directions

1. In small bowl, mix Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Then, in large bowl, mix this marinade with ground beef until just combined. Shape into 4 patties, each ¾-inch- (2 cm) thick.

2. Place patties on greased grill over medium-high heat; sprinkle with salt, close lid and grill, turning once, for 1 minute per side. Transfer to baking sheet and cook in preheated 350°F (180°C) oven until digital thermometer inserted into centre reads 160°F (71°C), about 8 to 10 minutes.

Decadent White Chocolate Chip Cookies

This week I visited Jonathan in Waterloo.  He was doing research for his M.A thesis and I did some baking! When these cookies came out of the oven Jonathan said they were like a white chocolate version of the President’s Choice “The Decadent” Chocolate Chip Cookies (which is a good thing).  Cookies are wonderful brain food for writers.  Many famous and brilliant thinkers would not have accomplished their great works had it not been for nourishing food and delicious cookies, I’m sure!

The texture of these cookies is similar to shortbread with a rich buttery flavour.   The brown sugar added depth and richness and the white chocolate chips gave a sense of fun.  My younger Sarah sister claims that white chocolate is a waste of time and not real chocolate, however, I think even she would enjoy these cookies.

In other news, Jonathan and I went to a restaurant yesterday for a date night in Kitchener and were very disappointed.  It was a new Italian restaurant that boasted in-house made pasta.  Unfortunately, just because it’s made in house, doesn’t mean it’s going to be good – the pasta was chewy and dry.  I will not even post a picture of the dinner or name the restaurant.  What I will tell you is that the Oliver and Bonacini Cafe Grill in Waterloo continues to be my favourite restaurant for pasta and pizza.  Below see a photo of my favourite dish from Oliver and Bonacini.  It is a scrumptious smoked salmon penne alla vodka.  This dish is seriously heavenly and I hope to recreate it in my kitchen sometime soon!

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups white chocolate chips

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

3. Beat in the vanilla until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

4. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time (for giant cookies) or a tablespoon at a time (for smaller cookies) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

5. Bake larger cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, or 10 to 12 minutes for smaller ones (check your cookies before they’re done; depending on your scoop size, your baking time will vary) in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Busy, Busy, Busy (Convocation, Bachelorette Party & Fudge!)

This week I graduated from Queen’s University with my Bachelor of Education (Intermediate/ Senior divisions).  This means I am certified to teach high school in Ontario, grades 7-12.  Mom, Dad, Jonathan and I drove to Kingston, Ontario for the convocation ceremony.  The weather was absolutely beautiful and it felt great to walk across the stage and accept my degree.  In whatever job I end up doing I hope to use the skills I have learned in teaching.  Every job needs people who can read, write, communicate and show empathy and compassion.  I also saw a few friends from the Trent-Queen’s concurrent program, which was awesome!  My friend Kirsten spent some time in Northern England teaching, so it was great to catch up with her and share some stories.

After the ceremony we went to Woodenheads, which is one of Kingston’s best gourmet pizza establishments.  I ordered a pizza with onions, meatballs,  Gruyere cheese and white truffle oil.  Jonathan got a pizza with apple butter, blackened chicken, cheddar cheese and caramalized onions. Needless to say it was absolutely delicious.  I was dangerously wearing a white dress, but did not spill anything on it (yay!)  It was perfect weather for a sundress. Mom had been wanting to try the pizza at Woodenheads for a long time.  I had told her about the amazing fresh ingredients and perfect crust.

In other news, this weekend we had Laura’s bachelorette party in Toronto!  We went out for a lovely gourmet Italian dinner, martinis and dancing.  The next day – we made the wedding favours (Hence the title ‘busy, busy, busy.’)  Mom invited her wonderful friends Ophelia and Heather over to help.  Alison (Laura’s fiance Chris’s Mom) also participated in making many batches of fudge.  Cutting out the fudge, assembling boxes and doing dishes were the main jobs.  Mom had it all planned out so it was a well functioning assembly line.  Auntie Andrea came to help with all of the packaging and cutting and it was quite the project.  The fudge mini wedding cakes look spectacular – I just know everyone will love it!

*I did not personally make the fudge (Mom, Ophelia, Healther and Alison get all of the credit.  Mom used a recipe from Martha Stewart.

 

Mango Chutney Restaurant and Oatmeal with Fresh Berries

Last week Jonathan took me to the Mango Chutney in Cambridge and it was fantastic.  It serves North Indian cuisine that had just the right amount of spice and flavour.  Jonathan had a small bowl of julienne green chiles to add to his meal as I don’t eat as spicy as him (“..Yet,” he adds.)  We ordered the feast for two, which came with fresh warm naan, basmati rice and three different types of curry.  It was all very flavourful and fresh.  Jonathan mentioned that each of the curry bases were different – which is often not the case at some North Indian restaurants.

The atmosphere was inviting, fresh and expertly decorated.  I loved the intricate, colourful patterns on the throw pillows that were arranged on the bench seating. We will definitely go there again!

Of course, it does not hold a candle to the delicious South Indian cuisine that Jonathan’s Mom and Dad prepare with such love.  Once I learn the art to their expert cooking I will try and share it.  For now I am still a beginner when it comes to making South Indian dishes.  I truly believe that it is an art to get the proper flavours and proportions of each spice.

RAITA
Whipped yogurt with cucumber & green coriander leaves.

BASMATI RICE & WARM NAAN

BUTTER CHICKEN
Clay roasted boneless chicken cooked in tomato sauce – Mango Chutney’s butter chicken is cream free.

LAMB CURRY
Boneless lamb cooked to perfection with special spices.

SHAM SAVERA
Spinach and cheese rolls in a mildly flavoured tomato sauce.

As for my own cooking projects this weekend, I made banana and pineapple muffins that did not turn out very well.  I will have to try again, because I am sure they could be lovely.  My next project was oatmeal with berries on top.  I followed the directions for the oatmeal and then sprinkled beautiful, nourishing, fresh berries on top and let the natural sugars work their magic.  It was a delicious breakfast and the photos turned out so well that I just had to share.  It is an easy and super healthy breakfast – with no sugar added!

Salad and Healthy Food

I just did the grocery shopping  for making cupcakes and mini cheesecakes for my sister’s bridal shower this weekend.  Having bought a huge bag of flour, two pounds of butter, 1kg of icing sugar and 3 packages of cream cheese, I am feeling fat just thinking about all of those ingredients.  For that reason I would like to reflect on salad.  This upcoming weekend is going to be a carb-opolooza, so I would like to think happy green vegetable thoughts for a while.  I know my blog features a great deal of baked goods, so I assure you I eat salads and healthy foods too!

Last week Jonathan and I went to Fresh; a restaurant with three locations in Toronto. It’s been around for a while, but it was my first time going there.  I ordered the baby beach pasta bowl which is composed of: grilled red pepper, zucchini & sweet potato with avocado, sun-dried tomato, sunflower sprouts, olive oil, tamari, lemon, mixed herbs and goat cheese.  It was simply delicious and I definitely want to go back sometime soon.  I had never had soba noodles before (soba are noodles made from buckwheat flour).  I also ordered an antioxidant smoothie that was very tasty.  When I was at Chapters the other day, I saw two cookbooks from Fresh –  I flipped through the pages and there were many delicious looking recipes for salads, smoothies, and wraps. They are definitely going on my wish list.

I made the following salad today for lunch.  It has baby spinach greens, cucumber, red pepper, avocado, bacon and Balderson cheddar.  The salad dressing I made was quick and simple: 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp of rice wine vinegar, dash of salt, dash of freshly ground black pepper and two drops of lime juice.  It was a hearty and filling salad.

One of the biggest parts of healthy living is exercise and eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.  So here is a beautiful afternoon snack – lovely organic oranges!

O&B’s Bannock

Last night Jonathan, my sister Laura, her fiance Chris and I went to Bannock in Toronto.  The restaurant is owned by Oliver & Bonacini and located in the flagship Bay department store on Queen Street West. While the food was good, I think the desserts were better than my entree.  I ordered macaroni and cheese with wilted spinach and it was kind of milky, which was strange.

The sour cream donuts with a caramel sauce was truly phenomenal.  The donuts were warm, fluffy and rich.

Laura and Chris ordered the s’mores pie to share.  They said it was simply delicious.  Laura and I reminisced about our time at Sparrow Lake Camp making s’mores pie over the camp fire.

After dinner at Bannock, we came home and had a few friends over.  Beau was the star party guest – he showed off his tricks for all the guests.  Chris has taught Beau to walk on his hind legs for two meters (amazing)!  This morning Beau is looking a little tired.

Montreal Part 2

Well there is more to share about wonderful Montreal.  Starting with Schwartz’s famous smoked meat sandwiches.

Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwiches have been an institution in Montreal since 1928.  The inside of the restaurant is atmospheric and very welcoming.  Jonathan and made it there in time to miss a huge lunch time line up.  Yes, people were lined up, even on a rainy cold Montreal day! Jonathan ordered us both a medium-fat smoked meat sandwich that were piled high with smoked meat.  I think Jonathan appreciated the smoked meat sandwiches more than I did.  I enjoyed the experience, but I’m not big on giant meat sandwiches.

The next stop on our list of Montreal foodie things to list was to try bagels from Fairmount and St. Viateur Bagel.  While in the St. Viateur bagel shop they took a picture of me while they were making the bagels.  I was very excited by this.  The large oven and the smell of fresh bagels was a dream come true.

Jonathan has concluded that he likes the Fairmont bagels better, because of the crispier outside and soft inside.  I am undecided on which I prefer – I suppose I will have to go back and sample more bagels!

Next on the foodie institution list was Wilensky’s Light Lunch.  Wilensky’s is famous because of Mordecai Richler’s novel “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.”  Jonathan and I ordered the Wilensky’s Special, which is a grilled salami and bologna sandwich with a splash of mustard on a egg bun known as a pletzl, pressed flat from the grill.  Mustard is compulsory and the sandwich shall never be cut in half, as a delightful sign in the restaurant states.

The sandwiches were delightful and tasty.  In addition to the sandwiches we also ordered fountain drinks from a real soda fountain.  Syrup is put into a glass, then soda water is added, and then it is stirred.  “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” being one of Jonathan’s favourite books, eating at Wilensky’s made this lunch very special.  We were both delighted, enchanted and thrilled to be sitting in this historic restaurant.

From our trip to Montreal, I think we can safely say we had an authentic experience, and had great fun strolling through some Montreal neighbourhoods that have true character.