Thai Themed Dinner Party

A friend/co-worker of mine used to come into work with the best smelling and tasting home cooked Thai meals for lunch on a regular basis. She's done multiple trips to Thailand and is a major foodie so she knows a good authentic tasting Thai dish when she sees one. Fast forward to a couple of months later when we decided to get together and make some of her favourite dishes and try out some new ones as well. 

We created the menu below with a dinner party in mind, with a goal of having a little bit of everything to taste, from a salad, to a soup, to a main dish and even dessert. Some of the dishes were more challenging than others (Khao Tom, I'm looking at you) but was it ever worth it! Click the photos below to get the recipes! 

 Thai Papaya Salad

Thai Papaya Salad

 Khao Tom (Thai Rice Soup)

Khao Tom (Thai Rice Soup)

 Whole Thai Fried Fish with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce

Whole Thai Fried Fish with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce

 Thai Black Sticky Rice Pudding

Thai Black Sticky Rice Pudding

Outdoor Grilling with Carnivor Wine

Grilling is typically thought of as a summer activity. Living in Calgary, with winter taking up about half of the year, I refuse to let this be a rule to live by. I decided to indulge my primal side by grilling some steaks over a DIY fire and grill top in beautiful Canmore, AB. That’s right folks, I built a grill AND started a fire all on my own and it was a lot easier than you might think.

Here’s a video depicting the whole process from beginning to end, if you’re considering tackling this project as well or wanting to see how this was done. I have to say, watching this video makes me feel grateful to have the beautiful Rocky Mountains in my backyard.

All you need to make your own outdoor grill is a few bricks, a replacement grill top (I found mine at Canadian Tire), aluminum foil, some lump charcoal, a few fire starter nuggets (also found those at Canadian Tire) and a BBQ lighter. Oh and did I mention wine? Yes, yes, you will need plenty of that as well to keep warm. Carnivor Wine provided me with a bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon, which happens to pair perfectly with grilled meat.

Obviously the point of my adventure was not just to build a grill, but also to make some food on it. The theme of my life is cooking and/or eating and almost all of my daily activities revolve around those two things. I went with the obvious choice for the first meal attempted on my DIY grill: steak. In my opinion, steaks are meant to be grilled, and no other method of cooking results in a more delicious and flavourful final product. You can find my recipe for perfectly grilled sirloin steak with Carnivor wine sauce here. I’ve added some photos below to get your mouth watering.

If you want to learn more about Carnivor Wine, check out their website at http://www.carnivorwine.com/

If you have any questions about how to assemble your own grill, leave a comment and I am happy to guide you through it!

Cooking with VDG Salumi

I recently had the pleasure of collaborating with talented chef Stuart Kirton, co-founder of VDG Salumi. This local company started as a passion project of curing meats at home, and can now be found feeding purveyors of cured meats in restaurants in Calgary and Canmore, as well as grocery stores and supermarkets across the province. 

The first thing I'm sure you think of when we're talking about handcrafted, small batch, Italian salumi is eating it straight up, charcuterie board style. And this is exactly what we did. Picture proof:

 Pictured here: Sopressata, Guanciale, Coppa, Finocchiona

Pictured here: Sopressata, Guanciale, Coppa, Finocchiona

But of course I figured this was a great opportunity to pick Stuart's brain and have him teach me a few awesome recipes using his products. Also, I really just get excited when other people cook for me since it doesn't happen often, so I put on my stretchy pants and took full advantage of having a private chef at my disposal. 

I won't leave ya'll hanging without links to the recipes and photos. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. P.s. please check out https://www.vdgsalumi.com/ if you're wanting to learn more or find out where to buy it!

 Spiced Sweet Potato Salad with Hazelnuts and Coppa

Spiced Sweet Potato Salad with Hazelnuts and Coppa

 Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Prawns and Sopressatta

Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Prawns and Sopressatta

 Roasted Pork Sirloin with Carrots, Gingerbread and Guanciale

Roasted Pork Sirloin with Carrots, Gingerbread and Guanciale

Bake it Possible Challenge

You probably don't know, but I entered an online contest a while back called Bake It Possible.  The contest involved using one of Pillsbury and Betty Crocker's products to make a delicious and creative recipe and the grand prize was $10,000. As I'm already creating recipes all the time, I thought I might as well enter. 

Fast forward to today... I made the top 10 and got to compete in the Bake it Possible kitchen, and the whole thing was televised! It's a one-hour special hosted by the Food Network's Brad Smith, with guest judges Chef Lynn Crawford (the best), and Mijune Pak. Pretty cool. It's playing tonight, September 23rd, 2017 at 6pm Mountain Time on the Food Network, so tune in and cheer me on!

To learn more about the special and watch it online after it premieres, visit www.foodnetwork.ca/BakeItPossible

 Top 10 Finalists

Top 10 Finalists

Jillian Nowak Bake It Possible Finalist

The recipe I entered was my Spiced Lamb Pitas, pictured below:

My favourite thing about doing this types of Tv shows is meeting some really cool, and like-minded people. These two beautiful girls are killing it in Toronto and are definitely worth checking out:

  Aleshia from Less With Bread

 Aleshia from Less With Bread

 Sabrina from My Miaou

Sabrina from My Miaou

Summer Salad Series

Salads are great all year round but they are especially great in the summer for two reasons: One, because it's bathing suit season and eating light and healthy is a given, but secondarily and more importantly because it is wayyyy to damn hot to turn the oven on. Click the photo to get the recipe for each of the salad in my summer salad series.

 Burrata Salad with Chimichurri Dressing

Burrata Salad with Chimichurri Dressing

 Lean Greens and Bean Salad

Lean Greens and Bean Salad

 Endive and Honeydew Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Endive and Honeydew Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

 Chevre and Asparagus Pasta Salad

Chevre and Asparagus Pasta Salad

 Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh

Two New Recipes Using Three Foragers Bee Co. Raw Creamed Honey

Three Foragers Bee Co. gave me the opportunity to try out their product and I can't wait for you guys to check out the incredible recipes I made with their honey! I get very excited when brands reach out to me when their product is something I can genuinely get behind. Not only does their honey taste amazing, but it is also one of the most sustainable sweeteners for our planet. The honey they harvest requires no fertilizer, no irrigation and leaves no impact on the land. 

Visit http://www.threeforagers.ca/ or your local Save on Foods to get your hands on some!

Click the photos to get the recipes for a strawberry honey tart or honey miso ribs. You won't regret it.

 Strawberry Honey Tart

Strawberry Honey Tart

 Honey Miso Ribs

Honey Miso Ribs

Smart Fuel Collaboration

I teamed up with my good friend and certified holistic nutritionist Courtney Stuart Laurie from www.smartfuelforyou.com to bring you a couple of healthy and satisfying recipes to keep you on track for getting beach body ready! We made some Kung Pao zoodles as well as a raw matcha cheesecake that I urge you to try! Both recipes are gluten and dairy free for those of you with restrictive diets. Click on the images below to get the recipes! Unfortunately she's leaving me to move to Toronto but if you are need of some nutritional coaching she's always available online! 

Asian Inspired Appetizers

Just because I am blonde and blue-eyed does not mean I don't know how to get down with some Asian flavours. Dumplings are my number 1 favourite food so you will continue to see different versions of them added to the recipe index. Here's a collection of some of my favourite Asian appetizers to date from the archives. Click on the photos to get the recipe!

 Crispy Pork Belly Bao

Crispy Pork Belly Bao

 Peking Duck Pancakes

Peking Duck Pancakes

 Soup Dumplings (not for novice cooks)

Soup Dumplings (not for novice cooks)

 Seared Ahi Tuna on a Wonton Crisp

Seared Ahi Tuna on a Wonton Crisp

 Pork Gyoza

Pork Gyoza

Holiday Treats

The holidays are all about indulging so I am of course going to participate (plus some). Here are a few festive treats that are wonderful to share with family and friends. Click the picture to get the recipe!

 Bailey's Cream Puffs

Bailey's Cream Puffs

 Nutella Tart with Gingersnap Crust

Nutella Tart with Gingersnap Crust

 Blondies

Blondies

Home and Away Brunch Features

This past week I had the pleasure of collaborating with Mike Pigot, the executive chef from Home & Away. He helped me bring my brunch ideas to life and serve them up to all of you! Carrot cake pancakes and a crab cake Benedict are on the menu for a limited time. I've posed recipes (of course) but for all of you who don't feel like cooking you'll be able to order them at Home & Away December 3rd and 4th from 10am-2pm. All of their brunch menu items run for $13 and they also have great drink specials to accompany your meal. Book a reservation by calling 403.455.9789 or email reservations@homeandawayyyc.com

Poko Popcorn Creations + Launch Party

In order to celebrate the official brand launch of Poko Popcorn I've decided to play around in the kitchen using one of my favourite flavours of popcorn: Jalapeno Cheddar. I've created a twist on a traditional southwest salad using popcorn in place of crunchy tortilla strips. 

Pick up your popcorn at the Poko party official brand launch this weekend! The party begins Saturday October 15th at Market Mall Shopping Centre and goes from 11am-6pm. Samples, giveaways and a grand prize for a trip to Hollywood for an ultimate movie night experience are all up for grabs!

For more details on how to enter to win or to simply participate in the festivities visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/316096362089706/  

Summer Recipes On the Dote Blog

I just love the ladies at Dote magazine so when they asked me to contribute to their blog again I was excited to share some of my favourite summer treats. Nothing says summer to me more than hot dogs and ice cream so here are my slightly more sophisticated versions. I present to you pretzel wrapped hot dogs with everything bagel spice and cheesy mustard dipping sauce for lunch and fresh peach and basil no churn ice cream for dessert. Taaaaa-Daaaaa!  Head on over to www.dotemagazine.com/blog to see everything they've been working on

Eat SUM SUM

Last week I had the pleasure of working with Aaron Ellard and Zander Hamm, the creators of Sum Sum, a modern Dim Sum experience coming to Calgary for a limited time. They taught me how to make soup dumplings. Dreams do come true! The recipe is posted here for all the adventurous cooks out there. If you don't want to try to tackle these at home (and I don't blame you cause they are a b!tch to make) book your reservation for one of their 3 pop-up events taking place at Commonwealth Bar & Stage (731 10 Avenue S.W.). Please note no minors allowed!

I got a sneak peak tasting of the menu and it's unreal! Some of the menu items include: Soup Dumplings (aka xiaolongbao) + Szechuan Chili Eggplant + Togarashi Fried Chicken + Ginger Beef Won Tacos 

Limited reservations are available by signing up to the newsletter via the website: www.eatsumsum.com (the newsletter will let people know when reservations open up, as they open and close at certain times) or follow them on instagram @eatsumsum