Friday, August 31, 2012

Purple-Baze

This A.M. get ready for the weekend and stock up your refrigerator with this purple basil iced tea lemonade.  This delicious concoction will have you drinking to your hearts content!
Purple basil, best known as a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine is also known for various other herbal uses. It is a traditional remedy that has been used in various cultures for hundreds of years for many uses besides cooking. Apparently, it can calm the stomach, reduce stress and help level out blood sugar.  For more reasons to use basil visit wellnessmama.com


Purple-Baze


Ready poured glasses chilling before guests arrive!

Mixing all the ingredients
Use a strainer and pour contents into a pitcher
My homemade version of a mortar and pestle- Granny Taylor's Apple Sauce thingy!
Purple Baze
(Purple Basil Iced Tea Lemonade)

Ingredients:
4 cups of home brewed green tea
1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh)
1/2 cup purple basil leaves
6 tbsps sugar
4 cups ice
4 sprigs basil (purple)
(Add vodka or rum for adults!)

Instructions:

Combine tea and juice in a large bowl.
Place 1/2 cup basil and sugar in a mortar; pound with pestle until a paste forms.
Add sugar mixture into juice mixture; stir until sugar dissolves.
Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids.
Place 1 cup of ice in each of 4 glasses.
Pour about 1 cup lemonade into each glass; garnish each serving with 1 basil sprig.
ENJOY!

Have a great weekend!

Ames xox

For more basil recipes, try:



Purple Basil Pesto Pizza Pie
Thai Basil Chicken
Venetian Shrimp and Scallops
Mackers' Meatballs
This A.M.: Naan Pizza
This A.M.: Avocado Stuffed Grilled Cheese
This A.M.: That's Amore - Part 3: Frittata
This A.M.: Ames' Oka-Roquette Shitake Burger
This A.M.: Girls Night-(Love Potion)







Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ceviche

This A.M. I hope you love my ceviche recipes! I made two types of ceviche last night, getting creative and having a lot of fun doing so. The first one I made was inspired by one of my favorite cocktails, a mojito and the second was my take on a more traditional ceviche. Both healthy, refreshing and as delicious as they look.

In case you haven't had the chance to enjoy ceviche and are wondering when in the instructions am I planning on telling you to cook the raw fish, here is the deal: Ceviche is a dish prepared with raw fish marinated in citrus juices that originated in the Central and South Americas. All the ingredients should be as fresh as possible and the acid in the juice will 'cook' the fresh fish, changing the proteins, turning fish from kind of translucent pink to white and shrimp from translucent light brown to pinky white.

If you feel daring you can do as the Peruvians do and enjoy Leche de Tigre, which means 'Milk of the Tiger' and is the term used for the leftover marinade. Often served in a shot glass or other small glass (sometimes with vodka in it!) along side the ceviche, it is believed to be a hangover cure (with the vodka in it do I hear hair of the dog???) and some even say it is an aphrodisiac.
  




Mango Mojito Shrimp Ceviche

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, devained, tails removed
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1/4 cup mango, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup mint, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon rum extract
2 tablespoons honey
Juice from 4-5 limes

In a bowl combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes or until shrimp are pinkish. Enjoy!




Tuna Avocado Ceviche

1/2 pound tuna, cut into cubes
1/4 cup yellow onion, minced
1/4 cup poblano pepper, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon light extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 4-5 lemons

1 avocado

In a bowl combine all ingredients except for avocado. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Cut up avocado just before serving. Either garnish ceviche with avocado slices or gently mix in chunks of avocado. Enjoy!




 P.S. Amy and I are both Gastroposters...My Mojito Ceviche is featured on Gastropost here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fair Fare

This A.M. the song "Let's go to the EX (ooh baby) Let's go to the EX (ooh baby)!" is playing in my mind like a broken record.  The jingle from the commercials on t.v. when I was a kid were so catchy they still stick with me today.

Yes, and entire building just for food!

The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is an 18-day fair that takes place in late August each year and runs until next Monday, September 3, 2012.

This year my plan and purpose was to hit the Food Building!  My intention was to find and taste the most interesting, and delicious fair foods.  So here they are....


Ames' TOP 3 ♥ CNE TREATS:

♥ Bacon Nation - Sandwiches (Bacon with nutella, BLT, Jack Daniels bacon sandwhich), Deep fried bacon covered hotdogs, Salads, Bacone, Bacon Pafait, Bacon Sundae and Meat candy (Chocolate covered bacon or candied bacon), Deep fried, beer battered, bacon wrapped hotdog served with bacon bits and BBQ sauce.
Should I go on? I won't, reading this alone raises your caloric intake!

♥ Vie - All RAW!  Some healthy eating is good to balance off the bacon!
All foods are prepared with organic products - Salads (House and Caesar), Taco Salad, Wraps (Caesar, Taco), Pizza, Desserts (Cinnamon Bun, Power Bars, Joe Luis,) Variety of Coffee, Juice and Smoothies.Vegan Taco.

"A raw foods diet consists of unprocessed raw vegan foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). "Raw foodists" believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost their enzymes and thus a significant amount of their nutritional value and are harmful to the body, whereas uncooked foods provide living enzymes and proper nutrition."
What do I know? It sounds good to me. Anything to compensate for the hotdog I wolfed down.

♥ PULL’D - Pull'd meat on a pancake uhum, red velvet, (pork), pull'd meat on a pretzel bun with perogies, pull'd parfait, pull'd nachos, traditional pull'd on a soft bun, pull'd taco, hash brown pull'd with pork, Chicken Tenders and fries.
OMG, I think red velvet pancakes are my newest food fetish. 


Ames at the Canadian National  Exhibition 

Bacon Nation
Deep fried beer battered bacon wrapped hot dog
RAW-Vegan Taco

Foodies 
CN Tower ~Dufferin Gate


Ames eating Pull'd Pork
Pull'd meat on a pretzel bun with coleslaw and perogies

PULL'D
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Posh Spaghetti Squash

This A.M. I have to tell you I got a little posh with my squash last night. I made spaghetti squash and instead of doing Italian style tomato sauce as it is traditionally served, I made up my own tequila lime tomato sauce to top the squash. With chorizo, shrimp and queso fresco finishing the dish off, we had a Spanish inspired sauce that will remind you of zesty salsa but with a thicker consistency.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with spaghetti squash, it is a large gourd that when cooked the insides come apart in strings similar to spaghetti, hence the name.  With next to no calories it is a starch (well a veggie that mimics a starch) you can feel good about. I will give you step by step instructions on how to cook it. As for the sauce, try out mine or serve it with marinara and meatballs, garlic butter sauce or even bolognese style. Whatever you end up making, don't be afraid to get a little posh with your squash!






Spaghetti Squash Prep

Preheat oven to 375. Prick squash all over (if you don't there is a small chance it could explode in the oven!), set in a shallow baking pan and bake for one hour. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes so it won't be too hot to handle. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and fibrous threads(they are connected to the seeds and are a little darker than the rest of the insides) out. Now with a fork scrape all around the insides to shred the pulp into strands. Place in a bowl, top with sauce and serve.




Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp and Chorizo topped with Tequila Lime Tomato Sauce

1 Spaghetti Squash
4 small pre-cooked chorizo sausages (I love Goya brand), sliced
1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, tails removed
queso fresco, about 1/2 cup for topping
fresh cilantro for garnish
lime wedges for garnish

1/2 poblano pepper, minced
1/2 yellow onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 12 oz can of tomatos with green chillis
1 12 oz can of tomatos with habeneros
6 oz of tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken broth, low sodium
1/4 cup tequilla
juice from a lime
1 tablespoon sea salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon cumin
few turns of cracked pepper

While the squash is baking, prepare the sauce. In a medium sauce pan saute poblano pepper, onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until softened. Add cans of tomatoes, paste, broth, tequila, lime juice,  salt, sugar, cumin and pepper. Stir until the sauce comes to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer until serving time, stirring occasionally. For picky eaters, put anywhere from half the sauce to all the sauce in the food processor to smooth, just before serving time. Put back in saucepan to simmer for 5 minutes before serving. I like the texture when I puree half and add it back in with the chunky.

Now have your boyfriend, guest, husband etc... prepare the squash while you in a small frying pan saute the chorizo and shrimp for about 5 minutes. The shrimp should be cooked through and the chorizo slightly browned.

To build the dish, place spaghetti squash on  each plate, top with sauce, add meat, cheese and garnish with cilantro and a lime wedge.







Monday, August 27, 2012

Purple Basil Pesto Pizza Pie

This A.M. I have a tongue twister for you.  'Bet cha' can't say "purple basil pesto pizza pie" 10 times fast! Before you can even muster the words out of your mouth, after making this recipe, you will have devoured this savoury tomato, mozzarella, purple basil pesto, cheesy biscuit pie crust dish.

This weekend, thanks to my friend Nicole and her plant, I am officially in love with purple basil.  So much that I created an entire summer dinner around my newfound inspiration.   I hope you enjoy!


Nicole's Purple Basil

Ames is wearing Sundress; Forever 21, Necklace Fine Finds, Arm Candy; Tory Burch, Tibetan Spiritual healing bracelet, Leather braid/string bracelet; Aldo Accessories
The end result is this easy to make pesto pizza pie.   I  didn't have too much time to make a yeast crust, so I used a biscuit dough to make this a quick and easy bake.
With the left over basil I concocted an ice tea lemonade to wash down this "to die for" pie. (Recipe to come!)
Purple Basil Pesto, Mozzarella Cheese, Romano Cheese, Roma Tomatoes, Purple Onion,  Biscuit Crust
Have your dinner guests coming back for seconds with this summer menu.
Sneak Peek; Purple Basil Iced Tea Lemonade

For the entire recipe:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Breakfast That Sticks

This A.M. impress someone you love with red velvet pancakes layered with cream cheese icing and  stacked high on a stick.  

Use a cookie cutter to top your stack with a heart or star shaped pancake.  I sprayed the cookie cutter with cooking spray first, poured batter into it, flipped carefully and quickly and used a knife around the edges to eject.

Gastropost Mission #13
Cream Cheese Icing With A Kick
Cookie Cutter to Make a Shape

Ames' Red Velvet Pancakes
Ingredients:
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 tablespoon red food colouring
2 tablespoons butter, melted
cooking spray
Instructions:
Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to "sour".
Combine dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into "soured" milk, add vanilla and food colouring.  Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Drop tablespoon size batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.
Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 package cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
11/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons prepared strong coffee/espresso
1 teaspoon rum/or rum extract (optional)

In medium bowl, whip softened cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and mix smooth. Add a dollop  between each pancake and on top of the Red Velvet Pancakes! I used 6- 9 small pancakes and topped mine with a star pancake. Use a wooden skewer to keep them stacked otherwise they will fall over. TIP: push the flat side towards the plate

Garnish with powdered sugar and maple syrup and enjoy!


Ames xo

http://gastropost.nationalpost.com

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tilapia with Mango Salsa

This A.M. I have to say, eating healthy is actually not that bad. It was quite delicious actually.

Steve and I are going on a cruise in about ten days and I am hitting the panic button. I want to lose 10 pounds before the trip. Unless I starve myself, I seriously doubt I will pull off losing a pound a day. I am realizing that I can't eat burgers and country fried steak every single day, cruise coming up or not. Not giving up what I love, I need to mix it up a little with some healthy meals along the way.

Steve and I are both picky eaters so finding something healthy to make is a challenge. In fact, all day yesterday I was lamenting over what healthy meal I was going to make for dinner. I decided on Tilapia topped with Mango Salsa. I had a feeling Steve would push the mango salsa off the fish, going to bed hungry. I wasn't even sold on whether I was going to like it. But, I made up my own version of mango salsa, tailored to our tastes and it sure did look and smell good, so I was hopeful. When we sat down for dinner I was starring at Steve as he took his first bite, anxiously waiting for his reaction. He raised his eyebrows, smiled and said 'Wow'. I took my first bite next and actually moaned it tasted so good.

So maybe we can get the hang of this healthy eating stuff..... but don't expect me to give up completely on my comfort food!








Tilapia topped with Mango Salsa, served with Cilantro Lime Salad

Mango Salsa

1 large mango ripe and cut into small chunks
1 poblano pepper, minced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cilantro, minced
juice from one lime
pinch of sea salt 

Mix all ingredients, cover and chill for at least one hour before serving to allow flavors to mingle. Will last one week in refrigerator. 


Tilapia

For the tilapia, we bought 1 pound with was 3 filets.  I took them out 30 minutes before cooking them and seasoned the fish with a little garlic salt, sea salt, cracked pepper, sugar and cumin. When ready to cook, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan. Saute tilapia for about 4 minutes per side on medium high heat.


Cilantro Lime Salad

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2/3 cup light extra virgin olive oil
juice from half a lime
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon or more if desired, fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of sea salt
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
few turns of fresh cracked pepper
Mixed greens, spinach, alfalfa sprouts

Place all ingredients, except salad greens, in small tupperware that has a lid. Place lid on and shake to mix and emulsify the dressing. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to mingle and to chill the dressing.

In a large bowl put desired salad greens and lightly toss salad with dressing.


Putting your meal together....

Lay a bed of salad on your plate, placing the tilapia next. Generously top with mango salsa, garnish with a lime wedge and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!








Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bahn Mi Boys

This A.M. I have a recommendation for a great little lunch spot in the heart of T.O.

~ Bahn Mi Boys Sandwiches!

Opened since 2011, serving Banh Mi, Steamed Bao and Tacos, this Vietnamese inspired sandwich bar is located at 392 Queen Street West, Toronto.
Bhan Mi sandwiches are served on a baguette with house mayo, pickled carrots, cilantro and cucumber.

The menu, boasts sandwiches with pulled pork, lemongrass tofu, squid and duck confit to name a few of the delectable choices, as well, offers kimchi fries (kimchi is a pickled cabbage),  seafood, meat and veggie tacos, Jicama papaya salad, and Steamed Bao.

Tantalize your tastebuds and put your money where your mouth is.  This savoir fair experience will keep you on your shoe string budget without sacrificing fresh and sophisticated flair.


If I could have ordered one of everything.....
Steamed Bao; Kalbi Beef, cucumber, pickled carrots and cilantro

Kimchi Fries; pulled pork + mayo+kimchi+greenonion
Kimchi Fries; a poutine inspired dish

Bahn Mi; Kalbi Beef, short ribs, kimchi and asian BBQ sauce
Banh Mi Boys on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 20, 2012

Japanese for Fish 魚

This A.M. I still can't believe how much sushi was consumed over weekend! The Tampa Gang went to Sakana, a sushi spot in South Tampa on Saturday night. Sakana, which in Japanese means fish 魚, is a place we frequent for fresh multifarious Japanese food and hip, yet laid back ambiance.




They offer everything from sushi to eclectic Japanese inspired entrees, which makes Sakana not your typical sushi restaurant.  Having a large variety on their menu, got Steve, who has never been a fan of sushi,  in the door. I carefully picked rolls I thought he might like for myself while he ordered an entree. Small tastes of my rolls over the course of a couple visits to Sakana finally swayed Steve from 'not liking sushi' to really enjoying it, giving me the go ahead to order several rolls for us to share each time we visit.



 My favorite menu items are the Beef Tartar Asian Style (prime beef strip steak minced with hot chili, scallions, sesame oil and soy sauce) which has a little kick to it, the Red Dragon Roll (shrimp tempura, cream cheese, cucumber, rice, nori, topped with tuna, avocado, spicy mayo and tempura flakes) and the insanely delicious Tempura Bananas Foster. But they have specials and offerings that aren't even listed on the menu like squid, jawbone and other unique rolls and appetizers, ask your server for the low down... they are really knowlegable and friendly at Sakana.

My little insider tip is don't go home with out ordering Voodoo Chips or the Green Monster Roll, both items that aren't listed on the menu.







Sakana on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 17, 2012

Missing Ribs!

This A.M. we had quite the laugh over Hoover's antics last night.

Steve made ribs, I made Mackers and Cheese, BBQ rolls and grilled corn on the cob, while Hoover and Conchi provided salad, drinks and hosted their home for us to make a mess in.

We put Hoover in charge of finishing Steve's ribs on the grill and it seems that sometime between the time when the two racks of ribs were set on the grill and they came back inside about a half a rack went missing. When Hoover and the platter of finished ribs came inside everyone immediately noticed that the platter was looking a little short. We all asked Hoover what the hell happened and he sheepishly denied our accusations. We shrugged it off and dug on in.

After our divine comfort food dinner we said good bye to Hoover and Conchi and headed on out. Outside, I noticed the trash can was fairly close to the grill and I couldn't help myself, I had to lift the lid and peek inside. Our suspicions were confirmed. Seven or eight completely picked clean rib bones laid on the bottom of the trash can.

Next time we either need to bring another rack of ribs or hire a new grill man.







Steve's Ribs

Step by Step instructions for tasty ribs:  Rince ribs. Peel off white membrane along the backside (see pictures below for more detail). Place rack on heavy duty foil,  season well with BBQ rub (get my recipe here, it makes enough rub for one rack),  begin to fold foil up, pour in 1/4 cup of white wine for moisture, seal up foil and then double wrap it with a second piece of foil. Bake at 300 for two hours. This is optional, but if the weather is nice we take the ribs out after an hour and half and finish them off on the grill for wonderful char flavor. Five minutes on each side over high heat does the trick. Separate the ribs into manageable portions, slather in BBQ sauce and serve!










Sides:


The corn was removed from the husks, rinced and individually wrapped in tinfoil with a tablespoon of butter and a pinch of sea salt per ear. Grill or bake at 350 for 10 minutes. For extra flavor, after they are done cooking, grill for for anywhere from a minute and a half to 3 minutes (depending on desired char) over high heat turning frequently.


Get the BBQ rolls recipe here. Get the Mackers and Cheese recipe here.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

S'mores

S'mores are a traditional campfire dessert, derived from the words "some more." 
"While the origin of the dessert is unclear, the first recorded version of the recipe can be found in the publication "Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts" of 1927."

Here are the 3 steps to making a perfect S'more:

1. Be Prepared.  You will need a Camp Fire, Roasting Sticks, Graham Crackers, Marshmallows, and Dark or Milk Chocolate bar squares. 

2. Master the Technique.  The perfect way to roast a marshmallow, according to Javion is by "holding the marshmallow close to coals, instead of the flame.  Be careful not to set your marshmallow on fire, the coals can get really hot!" Roast each side evenly by turning on all sides.

3. Enjoy.  Place the marshmallow on top of 2 constructed crackers and chocolate.  If you have double pronged stick you can wedge the entire cookie between and heat the entire cookie a few more moments to toast the crackers and melt the chocolate!

Going in for the second roast~wedged between the prongs
Golden Brown 


The perfect S'more


Campfire Fun
Check out the entire meal made by campfire: visit To AT.
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