Friday, April 11, 2014

Eggplant Parm-sagna

I wasn't sure what to call this recipe, as it really is a sort of a mix between eggplant parm (igiana) and a lasagna. A lighter, healthier, vegetarian version.

parm-sagna? las-igiana? eggplantania? .. even Sean could not help me with this one. "Those words just really do not mesh! "

I also wasn't too sure I would post this recipe as the pictures are TERRIBLE, and do not do it justice at all. But the results tasted so delicious, I figured I just had to share.




I was so proud of myself for using up ingredients I had on hand- including these 3 lonely lasagna noodles, leftover and dejected in a box.

Originally I was planning on having spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and eggplant..however when I cut open the squash I realized that I didn't have a spaghetti squash. I had a butternut squash.  Cue my brain going into overdrive thinking of all the dishes I could make instead. I was envisioning myself on Master Chef , opening up my mystery box, the clock ticking with only 60 minutes.. clearly I have been watching too much tv!! On the bright side, it really does help you be creative. I pretty much made this recipe up as I went, with some inspiration for the squash goat cheese from this squash and goat cheese lasagna but I used much less butter.

Ingredients:
- tomato sauce (I used homemade, courtesy of my mom! but canned is fine too)
-  1 or 2 eggplant (sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds)
- bread crumbs
- 1 egg + 2 T water
- butternut squash
- goat cheese
- 1 T butter
- 1 T flour
-  1-2 cups skim milk
- parmesan
- cheddar or mozzarella cheese

Directions
- preheat oven to 375-400.
- Dip eggplant in the egg mixture and then in the bread crumbs, and put on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Bake eggplant for 20-25 minutes on each side
- Bake squash for approx. 1h. This can be done at the same time, using convection function of your oven. Tip: I always microwave the squash a  bit before cutting it to make it softer and easier to cut. Cut it open, and  remove seeds. Place sides skin side up on a parchment lined baking sheet with about 1 tablespoon of water
- Put tomato sauce in the bottom of a lasagna dish, and then place the eggplant.
- Once the squash is soft enough, remove it from the oven and scoop flesh into a bowl. Put 1 T butter in a fry pan and add about 1 T flour, stirring constantly. Lower heat a bit and add about 1 or 2 cups of skim milk, until it thickens. Add in goat cheese ( 1/4 small package) and then add in squash.
- Spread squash and goat cheese mixture over the eggplant in the dish
- Grate parmesan and cheddar cheese on top
- optional, put 1 layer (or just 3) cooked lasagna noodles on top.
- Bake for a few minutes until cheese has melted.


leftovers are great for lunches! Enjoy :)



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chocolate Glazed Donuts



Or rather- Chocolate Cake Glazed Donuts

Doesn't the name just ooze healthiness? Well whatever, these donuts are really not THAT bad for you, with only 1/2 cup of sugar and some cocoa powder. Plus they are baked and not deep fried, so that aint too bad!!

This week I decided to cook some stuff on Sunday so that dinners during the week would be a lot easier! I was up early anyway (with the rest of Canada) watching the big Canada- Sweden hockey game so figured I might as well make use of the time. I ended up making a big batch of jerk chicken, which can keep for a few days. I also made some rice with peas.. cheat version using a grocery store package.. and it's so good!! One of these days I will make it from scratch.

At any rate, I had some extra time Monday night since dinner just needed to be heated up and the plantain was ready to be fried! D was coming for dinner and was running a bit late and I was starting to get hungry. To distract myself I decided to make these donuts, based on a pinterest recipe I had bookmarked ages ago. Since I got my donut pan, I have a whole pinterest board for donut recipes, just waiting for me to bake!!! Anyway I have a sweet spot for chocolate so this recipe from Buns in My Oven (woow just checking the site and it looks like there are a lot of great recipes!!) jumped to the top of my list. They were really quick to whip up.  I adjusted the recipe for the glaze, as the original made way too much and it was a bit wasteful.
 
Ingredients:
For the donuts:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
6 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

For the glaze:
1  cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons milk- the recipe called for whole but again I used skim
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:
To make the donuts:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and baking soda.
In a small bowl, beat together the vanilla, egg, sour cream, milk, and oil.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined.
 Put in a donut pan- I used my non-stick one and didn't need to grease it. I also used a piping bag to put the batter into the pan. If you don't have anyjust cut a whole in the bottom of a ziplock.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the tops spring back when you touch them.
Let the donuts cool in the pan before glazing.
To make the glaze:
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar, milk, and vanilla until well combined. Remove from the heat.
Dunk the donuts in the glaze to fully coat and place on a wire rack to set.





So go for it. Whip these up, and then get them out of the house ASAP, before you eat them all.

I used these cute bags I got from Michaels on the weekend. They have a whole stand with such cute chalk labels, bags, books, cards etc.. I wrote on them with chalk markers that I bought to write on my jars (I had painted chalk labels on them). The markers are easier to handle than regular chalk and don't wipe off as easily, but can still be erased using water. I brought  these in to colleagues at work!





Friday, February 21, 2014

Italian Cooking Lesson

Double Trouble in the La Botegga Kitchen

Last night Emily and I went for a cooking lesson at La Botegga in the market. I had given this to Emily as her birthday present back in December. The reason for the wait is that these sessions fill up quickly and you need to reserve in advance. So the day finally came and it was a lot of fun! The food and wine were really good too.



Now, I used the term lesson rather than class because it was just so laid back. Even the Chef said this was more of a dinner party than a class. I have gone to cooking classes before where you definitely need to put in some elbow grease. I have also heard some funny stories of the stress people faced, trying to keep up at intense classes such as le Cordon bleu. At any rate, this was most definitely not the case. The chef- Michael Cummings- was so nice, and pretty much prepared everything. He said we were welcome to help, but could also just watch. Emily and I helped for the dessert-surprise surprise.



The other participants were really nice and a lot of fun! The company definitely makes up a big part of the atmosphere and it was so lovely. We definitely had a lot of laughs. Unfortunately I still have a cold and each time I laughed it would cause me to cough .. which would turn into a bit of a coughing fit. Who knew it was spelled cough and not caugh? Emily informed me yesterday and I guess I've been spelling it wrong for some time now. Shame on me!! Some participants love it so much they go to every lesson- so twice a month! I wouldn't go as often as that, but I would definitely go again.

They distributed recipes of the dishes we made so that we can make it again at home. One great thing is we had access to all these great ingredients, and if there wasn't enough of something the chef could just get more from the store. Emily and I also walked around the store, perusing the food aisles and fridges ..mmm if that were my pantry I'd be in heaven!

First we started with a Sea food stew/soup- Cloppino- which was simple enough to make and tasted quite good. The seafood we had was:
Basa white cat fish, which is all the rage nowadays and apparently makes tilapia seem cheap and second-class in comparison.
- scallops
- shrimp

At this point Chef C asked if there were any lawyers in the room- there was one. He proceeded to tell the following joke:
 Q. What is the difference between a catfish and a lawyer?
A: One's a scum-sucking, bottom-feeding scavenger, and the other's a fish.

Hahaha. Ouch.

So you start by putting in the Basa as it cooks for 4 minutes, then add the scallops (2 min) and finally the shrimp (1 min). Here is a photo of the seafood prior to putting it in the stew:



Most of the fish was already in the stew by the time I took the photo. Don't mind the strawberries those were for later.  Chef C doesn't like garlic presses as he says it squeezes the juice out. Better to just slice it by hand very thinly, and do not forget to cut off the bitter end tip (what bitter end tip?)

And voila the finished product- served with freshly baked crostinis



For some reason my bowl had no shrimp. Say what? Emily kindly gave me a taste of hers.

The second course was a winter Caprese salad, which as you may know is mainly just tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. Now we learned some interesting things. For instance, the difference between Bocconcini and buffalo mozzarella. Bocconcini refers to the form of the cheese ( a soft cheese) and shape (small and size of an egg) and is usually made with cow's milk. Buffalo mozzarella really comes from water buffalo and is a bit larger and softer.

 Also in summer a caprese salad should be made with fresh tomatoes and fresh basil and in winter, roast the tomatoes (use the less watery tomatoes) and make a pesto (in this case basil and arugula pesto). Chef didn't put pine nuts in the pesto but roasted them and put them on top as garnish. Chef Cummings recommended using a toaster oven rather than a real oven to avoid burning the pine nuts- I know someone who does that- my sister! Way to go Claire- who knew it's what the professionals do as well!  It was delicious.



The main course was a grilled flank steak with salsa verde served with polenta. It could have been served over pasta. I've never had polenta before and my feelings towards it are somewhat indifferent- meh? I probably would have preferred pasta. The steak and salsa were delicious- steak seared on the stove at high heat and then baked in the oven at 450F for 10 minutes. It was medium- just how I like it.



When plating, we were told, its best to try and put the food in the center of the plate, garnish on top and then you can grind some pepper around it.

And last but certainly not least- dessert! Strawberries with a mascarpone whipped cream and a sauce (made from just wine, sugar and cloves that boils down to a sweet sauce)


Emily preparing to whip the mascarpone and whipping cream. Just using a whisk- no electric beaters here. The key is to use your wrist and not your arm and to use short folding strokes to get air into it. Apparently this is a 'party trick' to be able to whip the cream-  so what exactly is a party trick? It seems this term gets used rather loosely. The only other party trick I've heard of is clap push-ups. What kind of parties are we talking about here?   Anyway its a lot easier to whip cream that has a container full of mascarpone in it. Much thicker to start with. You also add 1 egg yolk and sugar to taste.

Voila



A sweet end to a delicious meal. I will definitely make these recipes again at home.  Hope you enjoy some of these tips and tricks, and I definitely encourage those of you in Ottawa to try it out!



Thursday, February 13, 2014

m&m Cookies

 
quick- dump them in before I eat all the m&m's!!
 
C's nice job

Please note these cookies are normal sized-
 when I make them on my own I get carried away and make them way too big..


 
Happy valentine's day loves!! If you are looking to bake something sweet , these cookies are great. C&S came over last night and C brought a package of  valentine m&m with pink, red, and white m&m's and we whipped these up. Well C&I did.. S kept Zak company and watched some bball. All this after I won Settler's of Catan..I only mention this because I NEVER win with those two!! It is definitely a moment to remember. Apparently after I won I said " good game!!" a bit too excitedly, and we had to laugh.

Anywho, enough gloating. We got the recipe from Rachel Cook's. We just googled m&m cookies, and this one claimed to be perfect, so we didn't change much. We did use normal size m&m's instead of mini ones.  It's always fun baking with someone, and it goes a lot faster! C is a great baker and cook. I also love having a fully equipped and well stocked kitchen- it means you can pick any recipe and are good to go.  Although my apartment is pretty well equipped, my parents' kitchen has the added benefit of much more space and a dishwasher to make the cleanup way faster!!

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • one package of M&Ms
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, mix together flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer-- wan wan I don't have a stand mixer..what was I saying about a fully equipped kitchen), cream together butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). With the mixer on low, add in egg and vanilla. Return mixer to medium and mix until incorporated. Scrape sides if needed.
  3. With the mixer back on low, add dry ingredient mixture gradually until dough forms. Stir in M&Ms by hand. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. Form balls from approximately 1 tablespoon of dough. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are just barely golden. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes on baking sheet before removing and placing on wire rack to finish cool. Store in airtight container.
These could be made any time with regular m&ms or probably with chocolate chips.
 
Enjoy!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Vegetarian Sprill Rolls

 

Continuing on with the theme of appetizers, here are some veggie spring rolls- baked in the oven. D came for dinner the other day and this time the theme was Asian. Spring rolls and a stir fry (and salad as always- must be healthy!! ) As usual I had a million dishes in the sink to wash before I could start with prepping dinner. By the time I was done with that, I was exhausted. Sent D a quick SMS- dinner likely won't be ready for 7 after all, at this rate it will be ready at midnight. Well, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly and easily this meal came together. It may not have been ready for exactly 7, but considering I laid down on the couch for a while-, I was pretty surprised that it made it to the table for about 7:15. Disclaimer- I used a bought sauce- hot plum sauce. Although it would have been easy to whip one up- the sweet and spicy sauce would have been perfect.

Another pleasant surprise, was that these spring rolls actually taste similar to real ones. I've tried making some before and they were not the best. This recipe is a keeper.  It is inspired by Canadian living's baked spring-rolls, but is even easier-, I didn't put red pepper and also omitted mushrooms as D doesn't like them. If you like them feel free to add in a cup of shitake mushrooms.

D didn't find they were exactly like real restaurant spring rolls, but that is likely due to the fact they aren't deep fried. Hey you can't compare carrots to French fries. 

Ingredients:
-1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 green onions
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 2 cups shredded cabbage ( you can buy this ready made prepackaged- big time saver)
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot (again this can be bought ready made- most mixes have cabbage and carrot in them)
- pinch salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (store bought- can this be made?)
- spring roll wrappers (found in a cold area of the grocery store, sometimes with the salads, sometimes with the vegetarian stuff)
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Some of these are staples that are always good to have on hand- corn starch, sesame oil, etc- it is so rewarding to have a well stocked kitchen!!

Directions:
- preheat oven to 425
- in a large skillet heat half of vegetable oil on medium/high heat, cook green onions (mushrooms if using), garlic and ginger, stirring often for about 2 minutes
- stir in cabbage and carrot and cook about 4 minutes
- whisk together water, hoisin sauce and cornstarch- pour over cabbage mixture. Stir to combine and transfer to a bowl to cool a bit.
- put parchment paper on a baking sheet, place wrappers on a baking sheet and spoon 2 tablespoons of the mixture on. Fold up (or roll- to look more professional) using water to help it stick closed.
- brush with remaining veggie oil and sesame oil
- bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway- After 10 minutes I noticed they were already quite brown and I reduced the heat to 400F. It all depends on you oven so be sure to check them.


This is what they looked like before baking

I only made 4 because I didn't want too many, but you could make more smaller ones.

Enjoy!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Scallops with Herb Butter Sauce



Speaking of dinner guests,  another favourite and my most common one is D. I love trying out new  on him. He keeps coming back and trusts me when things get a bit chaotic in the kitchen.  For instance, when I made the spicy honey chicken, there was a lot of smoke-  and he calmly asked "Umm, el? everything ok in there.. something smells like it's burning..?".  That was a bit of an understatement.  Despite my claiming it was normal and part of the recipe, he opened the windows, the door, and made sure the fire alarm didn't go off.  Fewf. Cooking in my little kitchen is always an adventure.

Lately I have been trying out appetizers. That way when I make the same main course a few times (in this case- salmon tacos) there is still something different to try. I try to have a theme, and in this case the theme was just sea food.  Now I don't like scallops, but D does and I decided to try out a variation of a recipe I saw on Fine Cooking. I think it turned out pretty well- although the scallops still didn't brown as nicely as the ones I saw the 10 year old kids making on Master Chef Junior. What can I say, those kids were damn good. The key is to really dry the scallops well before frying them so they get nice and brown.

Ingredients:
For the scallops:
- large sea scallops ( I didn't buy many, maybe 5? I got the last ones left at the store) You could definitely cook more for the same amount of sauce
1 Tbs. unsalted butter      
- 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil      
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper      

For the sauce:
- 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into six  pieces
- finely diced shallot (1 medium shallot)
- 1/4 cup dry white wine - I actually had some in the fridge-woo 
- 1/4 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley and chives
- 1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 to 3 lemon wedges for serving

Directions:

 -Rinse scallops  under cold water. Pat them dry with paper towels; surface moisture impedes browning.
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the oil and butter, and heat until quite hot. Pat the scallops dry once more and put them in the pan in a single, un crowded layer. Season with salt and pepper and let sear undisturbed until one side is browned and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn the scallops and sear until the second side is well browned and the scallops are almost firm to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, transfer the scallops to a plate, and set them in a warm spot. Let the pan cool for a minute before you make the sauce.
- Return the pan to medium heat. Add a piece of the butter  and the shallots and sauté until the shallots begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add the vermouth or wine and simmer until reduced by about half, another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the herbs and lemon zest. Reduce the heat to low, add the remaining butter, and whisk constantly until the butter melts into the sauce. Return the scallops and any accumulated juices to the pan. Gently roll the scallops in the sauce to warm them through. Taste for salt and pepper and serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side to squeeze over the scallops

This could also be served as a main course if you make more of them.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lasagna




So apparently..  this is the blog's 150th post! Seems unbelievable. Thanks for reading!

The other day, I had 2 of my absolute favourite dinner guests over for dinner! That's right- my parents!! They are amazing guests because no matter what I make, they always love it. It's always nice to cook for people who really appreciate it. Also, they are great company and help with dishes, sock folding, shelf organizing or whatever else needs to be done in my apartment. Oh and they also love my apartment- so positive and loving :). Anyway we had a great time.


I had a list of possible menu options and my dad chose lasagna. My mom had said he was trying to eat healthy and would prefer something light..but apparently this was news to my dad, who chose lasagna.  It was my first time making a real meat lasagna and it was quite simple. The sauce takes a little while but the rest is easy. I looked up a few recipes online and was inspired by allrecipes but in the end adapted into my own version.

Ingredients:
- lean ground beef
- 1 spicy turkey sausage
- 1 onion
- 1 red pepper
- garlic
- basil, and spices of choice
-  1 can tomato and basil tomato sauce
-  1 package ricotta
- part skim mozzarella ( 1-2 cups) (shredded- thank you Cuisinart shredder attachment for making my life easy)
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- fresh lasagna noodles- the ones kept in the fridge at the grocery (they don't have to be but fresh noodles but those ones or precooked ones will save you a step)

Directions
1. First stir fry the beef in a pan- drain and remove and put on plate. Then stir fry the sausage and remove. Then put in onion, red pepper, garlic, and sauté for a few minuets. Add meat back in along with tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water. Let simmer for 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 375
3. Layer in your lasagna dish- 1) meat sauce 2) noodles 3) ricotta 4)mozzarella 5) noodles) meat sauce 6) parmesan  7)noodles, 8) ricotta, 9) mozzarella, 10) noodles, 11) ricotta, 12) parmesan. Or something like that. It all depends how many layers you make.



I was able to send some home with my parents and I took some for lunch during the week. Lasagna is one of those dishes, where leftovers are just as good, if not better than the first time aroundl!

enjoy!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy 2014



Happy New Year Everybody!! Thanks for taking the time read our blog and for all your support! Wishing all a happy and healthy 2014!
 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A quick 2013 in [food+travel+miscellaneous] review..
Winter:
Sean started eating Paleo, and I jumped on the bandwagon. D and KT joined too from BC, and S from Saskatchewan.  I loaded up on  cookbooks, shared recipes on Google drive, and went at it full force for 30 days. It was a very interesting month, where I ate a lot of dark chocolate, avocado, sweet potatoes and meat. Oh yes and an obscene amount of eggs. 18 pack of eggs- pff that would last, maybe a few days!  I discovered the ever popular recipe for eggnana pancakes!


Costco to the rescue
The worst part was not eating beavertails during winterlude- and resisting my dads banana bread.


Claire eating a beavertail, only 1 hour after landing in Ottawa
Torture! Skating on the canal just isn't the same without beavertails. Its okay, don't feel too bad for me, I have more then made up for it since.


I saw this at a bakery in London- agree completely
Although I didn't stick with it after the 30 days,  I picked up some good habits and meal prep skills. A few of us blogged about the experience, if you're interested read about it here.

Emily invited me to celebrate Chinese New Year's with her wonderful family, where I spent the weekend eating more than ever before- so delicious!!

one of the many dishes at Mr. Chan's restaurant -yummy!
Mrs. Chan- Em- me

It's good luck to wear red


I also went a little bit nuts, embraced the Markham experience and got the most blinged out nails EVER- it was a bit much- see for yourself!


Back in Ottawa we had some game nights to pass the time during the winter. Ana I made us her famous guacamole - so good!! essential ingredient- cilantro-


Spring:
Smoothies- Somewhere along the way I became obsessed with smoothies, magic-bullet, nutri-bullet, you name it, I got it.. add some kale to it for extra nutrition.




We went to Boston to visit C&E and ate some lobster in New Hampshire!




I later ate lobster again at tamara's when she cooked it for Emily and me.



I ate a lot of cakes, bbqs and delicious food when we celebrated my grandma's 90th in Austria- lots of chefs in the Kitchen!




And time with the family





Following this, I went to London and experienced some local pubs- Manar!


the best lamb wrap i've ever had




and got to experience high tea, with Juliet and Sally at Mad Hatter's society


and in Ottawa..


girl's day is always fun but really the food didn't quite compare.

Summer:
I was in love with my bi-weekly veggie baskets which made for some really good salads and veggie dishes

There was an explosion of the food truck trend around Ottawa- yay!! excellent.

I went back to British Columbia for the 2nd time in a year (I love 'beautiful BC'- as the license plates say) time to Celebrate Keldi and Conor's wedding! I didn't waste any time and had a nanaimo bar as soon as I landed in Nanaimo!


And then we made our way to Parksville for the big day!



I Discovered fish tacos in Victoria at red fish blue fish and never looked back!


I definitely continued this trend by making salmon tacos, and by eating at El Camino in Ottawa-

We had a party for C&E in Ottawa- most of the pictures were corrupt :(-  and I later got a part time catering gig- but more on that another time.

The backyard all set up pretty! 

My mom's Strawberry Thyme Lemonade Creation 

I continued the celebrations with Becca and Kris's wedding- which was so much fun!





I also had several nice birthday celebrations including one at D&N's before I set of for Europe!




Always a feast!! Here some colourful and delicious veggies. 



I went on a 10 day hiking trip through the alps in the summer- Germany, Austria, Italy. It was amazing.. the hiking was brutal but the food (and drinks) were delicious! Schnitzel, Spätzle, Cake and Radler (beer and lemonade)!



 I also discovered the delicious hugo- an appertif with mint and elderflower syrup-


I got to go to St Catharines to visit C& S and they always spoil me with delicious food!!

The cheese on the right here is a specialty coffee cheese- soo yummy

We went several times to a dairy farm for ice cream!!

Back in Ottawa, we went up to Reesa's cottage for some late summer swimming. It was glorious, as was the meal and her raspberry pie!!




Fall:

At work, we purchased a pixie, Nespresso machine where we became hooked on vanilla capsules.. 



We had the honour and pleasure of having Juliet visit!! It was an amazing 3 months.
Together we ran, ziplined, nike +, started rock climbing and embraced barre class! Side note- the  smoothies at inside out barre are amazing!



Juliet is now also writing on this blog- you will be able to tell her posts a mile away because of her amazing photography! She is vegetarian and while she was here we ate minimal meat. Discovered some really good veggie recipes. My personal favourite is this quinoa and mushroom burger.

We took a cake decorating course, which was the beginning of the end. + 5 pounds and counting.. J did a lot of the heavy lifting while I was at work, and now never wants to see icing sugar or decorate a cake again.



It was definitely fun to do it with a class of just friends :)


We went to Montreal, Saw the Chihuly exhibit




And we walked up Mt Royal



And we of course had to go to Juliette et Chocolat




And we went to Quebec City and ate a lot of croissants. I think we went to 4 or 5 of the top 10 best bakeries. On the way there we stopped for a picnic!


And stayed at the beautiful Hotel Premiere nation. The restaurant there was delicious with the best brunch dessert- we also had a very good laugh at dinner..




Juliet also experienced her first Canadian Thanksgiving!!



D took us for dinner at play (twice)- which we loved. Our favourite dessert was blackmouth- aka a really intense delicious brownie, that makes your mouth turn black after your eat it! 





And when C&E were up we all went out to Les fougeres for dinner- a favourite of my mom! We all enjoyed. 

Reesa took Juliet and I to the NAC cafe- and to a dance show- Akram Khan-  that was fantastic! We liked the restaurant a lot, and later went back for a special dinner from Juliet when we went with the family to see nutcracker!! 

We booked our trip to China with D and A.

We ate latkes, had Christmas dinner and enjoyed dinners with family friends.

After Juliet left, I was sad, and ate a lot of steak to replenish my iron.

For Emily's birthday, we went out for dinner at Hooch, a new southern place on Rideau street,  where I tried chicken and waffles- great combination. 



I saw friends from in and out of town-


I celebrated K's birthday with her family-

Action shot of K&S


And this bring us right up to New years Eve Day-

with Em and M


Wow this post is way too long, and still many things I didn't mention- delicious dinners prepared by my parents and by friends, bakeries we loved ( Art is In, Scone Witch) -- but I must wrap this up.
Thanks for all in the great times in 2013- wishing you much love,  good food, family, health and happiness in 2014!


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