Tag Archives: North American Cuisine

Cold Weather Food means Pie!

I hate the cold. I really do.

In the Netherlands, winter is generally just under ten degrees centigrade and very very wet. Well it isn’t even officially autumn here and it is like a Dutch winter as it is only six degrees and super duper rainy. It is so wet and cold that I actually had to turn up the thermostat from fourteen to nineteen! So if this is the temperature for a Dutch winter… want to know what a Canadian winter is like?

You know it is cold when you actually feel the need to touch your thermostat! Usually I can brave the cold though that wasn’t the story today.

So with this ridiculous cold I thought to make an almost-winter meal!

Plus I bought two boxes of pie crust with two individual rolls of pie crust in them. So I was thinking of using those up rather than freezing them.

What better way to utilize pie crust than to make a pie? Better yet a chicken pot pie!

How wonderful is that?

Chicken Pot Pie Before Baking

This was the first time I have ever made such a thing. I was speaking to dad on the phone this morning and he told me to use seasoning and herbs to make the pot pie flavourful! So I did that and it smelled AMAZING but I have a feeling I used just too many herbs. Oops.

I got the recipe from Pip and Ebby, but the direct link for the recipe can be found here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (50g) carrots, chopped
  • 1 ½ cup (225g) frozen peas
  • 4 asparagus stalks chopped in ¾ inch length
  • 1 yellow onion (150g), chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ cup (190g) chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 1 cup (240ml) chicken broth
  • 1 can (284ml) cream of mushroom soup
  • ¼ cup (60ml) almond milk
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • 2 rolls of refrigerated pie crust

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ᵒF (176ᵒC)

  2. In a large frying pan, combine garlic and vegetables in olive oil at medium heat and fry until soft and fragrant. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Add shredded chicken, chicken broth, cream of mushroom soup, milk, and flour and mix until combined.

  4. Mix well adding herbs and seasoning until you’re happy.

  5. Now place one sheet of pie crust in a pie plate and pour chicken mixture into pie crust. Top with second pie crust sheet and seal sides. With a sharp knife, cut slits to allow pie to breathe when cooking.

  6. Place pie plate on a cookie sheet and put in oven for forty minutes or until golden brown.

  7. Remove from oven and enjoy!

I’m happy to have accomplished this for the first time! But I did over season. Too much thyme!

But it was pretty good for a first time!

I mean generally pot pies are under seasoned with a complete lack of flavour but I just slightly over did it! At least for my taste buds. I am sure my father would have loved it! Though he has a love for sauces and seasonings…

Chicken Pot PieHow does one prevent a pot pie from oozing out the sides though? It makes things very very messy looking.

And does a pot pie ever not look messy? You know how when you slice a cake it looks whole? Well do pot pies always look so blegh?

Chicken Pot Pie

I would think there would be a more solid consistency but that wasn’t quite the case. Is that normal? I am sure it is but I am not a fan of mess. And this is surely extremely messy!

I can say that I feel really warm now! Whether it is that the heat has now been turned on or due to the meal, I don’t know, but I feel good!

No longer cold! But speaking of the cold, I was told that there is meant to be snowfall in southern Alberta one of these days. I was also told that just last month there was snowfall down there as well. How crazy is that? It is meant to be colder in central Alberta, not in southern Alberta! Geez.

But clearly I’m in the right area if I haven’t seen the snow as of yet!

Anyway, this is it for me! Hope you all try this out… maybe with less thyme and rosemary! You won’t regret it!

Happy eating!

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Homemade Mac n Cheese with a Spicy Red Twist

Everyone, lets raise a glass to my successful meal today!

Raise your Glass
Raise your Glass

Officially I’ve been living on my own for two days and a bit. This past Thursday my mom flew back home. Though I really shouldn’t be saying home as Canada should qualify as home to me now. Anyway I’ve now cooked up three suppers and 2/3 were absolutely god awful. Okay, maybe not that bad but bad enough that I couldn’t even post a photo let alone blog about them!

Anyway today was a very successful day! Also a last minute meal decision if I might add. Thank you FoodGawker!

Before I continue, how has everyone been? I feel like it has been such a very long time since writing on here. I mean I know I wrote once while at my sister’s house but other than that? Nada! I almost couldn’t get back into it but then I remembered just how much I like writing. And then there is my pathetic new age love for taking photos of food. My brother-in-law has commented on this a few times even.

So back to food.

What are two things that all North American’s seem to like? From my understanding the first love of all North American’s is definitely Mac & Cheese while the second food love for all is definitely Sriracha. So what can one do with these two food items? Well combine them of course!

Macaroni & Cheese and Sriracha
The American Staple

I got the recipe from Life as a Strawberry and although I didn’t completely follow the recipe, my outcome was still incredibly fabulous. Not only in looks but also in taste! The original recipe for my meal can be found here if you feel the need to cook it!

Mac & Cheese Spaghetti with Sriracha

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz (113g) spaghetti
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (salted)
  • 2 Tablespoons white flour
  • 1 cup (236ml) almond milk
  • 1 cup (115g) Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha, plus 1 teaspoon as garnish
  • ½ teaspoon dried cilantro
  • Pinch of parsley

Instructions:

  1. Cook spaghetti in salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

  2. In same pot, spoon butter and allow to melt. Spoon in flour and mix continuously to form a roux. Slowly add milk to roux and whisk constantly until smooth.

  3. Allow sauce to thicken. Remove from heat one at desired thickness and add cheese. Stir cheese until completely melted. Add salt and pepper and ½ teaspoon of Sriracha sauce and mix well.

  4. Add cooked spaghetti to cheese sauce and mix until all spaghetti is coated.

  5. Spoon spaghetti into serving bowls and sprinkle with Sriracha, dried cilantro, and a couple of leaves of parsley for a touch of green.

  6. Enjoy!

Although parsley wasn’t the herb of choice, it tasted quite good with the spaghetti!

Also, why on earth doesn’t Monterey Jack cheese exist in other continents besides North America? I always read about this cheese when reading North American blogs or food related things and have always wondered what it tasted like. I thought it would be spicy. Boy was I wrong, it’s just sharp.

Cheesy Goodness

Delicious though! This cheese really does need to become an international thing!

It would make for a fabulous cheese on an International Cheese platter at some restaurants! Mmm mmmm!

Basically this was an excellent meal and I cannot wait for more deliciously executed meals.

Happy eating y’all!

Craving for a Cajun Favourite

It is bloody cold.

I mean it.

Each person feels the cold differently, we are all effected by the lower temperatures in different ways. For me my nose feels it. It gets so incredibly cold and even starts to hurt. I never noticed the sharp pain until today when I noticed the one side of my septum aching. If I still had it pierced I would understand but now? Weird.

Well today was very cold. Winter is officially here. I thought I could rock a thin sweater when I went out with my friend but I was very wrong. I should have worn a wool sweater or something. It is ridiculous how cold I was today!

Cold weather (Don't judge, I know most of you will say this isn't cold)
Cold weather (Don’t judge, I know most of you will say this isn’t cold)

Anyway, it is these types of days that we should enjoy something hot to warm our insides. Heat helps whether it is spice or temperature doesn’t really matter, just as long as it warms you up!

So today I wanted to make a gumbo. Now I had no idea it was going to be such a chilly day, but I am still very happy to have made a gumbo.

Gumbo comes from Louisiana, though it was first made in the mid 1700’s when the African slaves would cook a French soup combined with fish stew. Talk about an ancient food!

When I first was introduced to gumbo I was fifteen and we were invited to a get-together with a couple of daddy’s colleagues. I’m pretty sure the lad who cooked up the gumbo wasn’t even Cajun himself. BUT the meal was spectacular!

It seems that everyone in the oil industry is an expert in something that isn’t originally from their place of origin or passport country. For example dad has a colleague who is Scottish but has a Spanish accent and is far more Venezuelan than he is Scottish. Dad also knows a lad who is Dutch and also is far more Venezuelan than Dutch. So if the non-Cajun whipped up a fantastic gumbo it is pretty normal. At least to us.

Well, I got the recipe from The Housewife in Training Files – LOVE that name! Makes me think of the X-Files but girly, gosh what a nerd I am. The direct link to the recipe can be found here though. I followed mostly everything perfectly except I used fresh okra.

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo
Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 (130g) green bell peppers, chopped
  • ½ cup (115g) celery, chopped
  • ½ cup (75g) yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 (large) clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (100g) okra, chopped
  • 1 can (410g) diced tomatoes
  • ½ Tablespoon dried basil
  • ½ Tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ Tablespoon dried thyme
  • ½ Tablespoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika powder
  • Small pinch of dried red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups (750ml) chicken broth
  • 2 breasts (566g) of chicken, diced
  • ¾ cup (400g) frozen shrimp, slightly thawed with tails removed
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 1/8 a cup cold water – this makes a slurry

What is a slurry? Well it is a semi-liquid mixture such as cement, manure, or cornstarch and water!

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot heat olive oil at a medium heat and mix in flour to make a roux. Once like a paste and fragrant, turn heat to low and mix in vegetables and stir well until vegetables soften. Add diced tomatoes and herbs and spices and cook for an additional five minutes.

  2. While gumbo is cooking, cook your side dish. This usually is rice, however you can also use quinoa as I’ve done.

  3. Add chicken broth, diced chicken, and frozen shrimp. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for ten minutes or until chicken is cooked. Add slurry and bring to a boil until gumbo has thickened. Serve with your choice of starch.

  4. Enjoy!

So for some weird reason my gumbo was more of a soup consistency than a stew. Kinda annoying if you ask me. But it tasted good. AND it warmed us all up. Though I am back to my cold state. If you guys could feel my nose you would all shiver too! It is like ICE!

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

To try and thicken the consistency we mixed our multicolored quinoa into it. That definitely did the trick.

The biggest issue I had making this was definitely my inability to open up the tin can! Do you ever have the issue where you cannot open a can? I definitely did. Dad actually had to run out to the grocery store and buy TWO more can openers because we were both unable to open my can of diced tomatoes. Ridiculous right?

Assortment of Can Openers
Assortment of Can Openers

So now we have an army can opener – does anyone know how to use it? We have a normal one that cuts around the inside of the circumference of the inside of the lid, and there is the can opener that cuts the entire top of the lip off. The first two from the right are the new ones. That last left hand one is the one I couldn’t work. I feel like an idiot.

But I guess we all have our failures in the kitchen. For some people it is forgetting to put flour in brownies, for others it is sprinkling your breakfast with cumin rather than cinnamon (my friends son does this), and then there is me who is unable to open the can with the can opener.

Cold Trees
Cold Trees

Back to the cold, yesterday I learnt that for the winter the gardeners tend to warm the trees up by wrapping them with the long grass. I guess it really does get cold. This 15ᵒC weather is really cold. Everyone says it. So I guess the trees feel it too. These trees are from the western Cape (closer to Capetown) where it is much warmer, so that is when they wrap ’em in long grass. Interesting right?

Alright, I’m done blabbering. I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as we have!

Happy eating!

My Mexican First – Vegetarian Mushroom and Black Bean Burritos!

“If you are not from Mexico, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you talk about Mexican food?”

Well according to this blog I just read, its burritos. But really? Burritos is what you think about?

I think about beans. Though that may be due to the fact that I know what Mexicans-Americans are called when you want to be rude and disrespectful. In Spanish that word we used to be offensive is “frijolero”, this translates to beaner. It is the Spanish version of the horrible word Chink for a Chinese-American person or Gringo for an American or white person.

Anyway, if I am being fully honest, when I think about burritos I think about Americans. Although I know burritos originally come from Mexico, I think about Americans and how all my American friends love Taco Bell and burritos and all that other good stuff.

I actually don’t think I have ever had a burrito. I can recall most of what has gone in my mouth, but a burrito may not have ever been something I’ve ingested.

So yesterday was the first time I ever got to eat a burrito! Boy are they filling! But now I see why Americans like them so much. The recipe I followed was meant to make the burrito a Sriracha rice infused wrap, but A) I can barely handle spice and B) what exactly is Sriracha? Besides this thing all the Americans are raving about!

I got the recipe from Amuse Your Bouche though the direct link to the recipe can be found here.

Vegetarian Burrito with Chipotle Dipping Sauce
Vegetarian Burrito with Chipotle Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 cups (210g) basmati rice
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 can (425g) diced tomatoes
  • 3 teaspoons paprika powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (100g) mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 large flour tortillas
  • 1 can (425g) black beans
  • ¾ cup (86g) cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ cup (25g) cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 190ᵒC (375ᵒF)

  2. Boil rice as directed on package, approx. 15-20 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile in a medium wok heat up olive oil and pour in diced tomatoes and begin to cool. Mix in paprika powder, cumin, Tobasco sauce (you can add more if desired), and salt and pepper.

  4. Once rice is cooked, mix tomato and Tobasco sauce mixture into rice and set aside.

  5. In another frying pan (or reuse wok) sauté garlic and sliced mushrooms until fragrant and soft.

  6. To assemble the burritos, place large tortilla on a sheet of tin foil just a bit larger than wrap. Spoon three heaping tablespoons of rice in centre of the tortilla, spoon a couple tablespoons of black beans on rice, one tablespoon of mushrooms on beans, sprinkle with cheddar cheese, and top with chopped cilantro.

  7. Fold tortilla wrap into a large roll and fold tin foil around tortilla roll tightly. Place in preheated oven and cool for twenty minutes.

  8. Serve and enjoy!

Assembly of Vegetarian Burrito
Assembly of Vegetarian Burrito
Rolling of Burrito
Rolling of Burrito

You can also freeze the burritos if you do not want to cook them yet! But I’d cook them – as they are delicious! Though I’m sure they’d be better with Sriracha infused rice, but as a non-American I do not know what that truly tastes like. Though someone recently told me (and I’m quoting him) that it is so hot it makes you shit yourself. He however used less words and more emojis.

Well the recipe that you read above here is on the bland side if you like a kick in your meals, so in case you may feel it is kind of boring so I did make a dipping sauce (which is also a salad dressing)! My dad likes to add some pimiento to his meals, whether it be Sambal bajak or like last night, this dipping sauce. I got the recipe for the salad dressing/dipping sauce from here. Notice that this person has the same background/layout! I’ve not seen it on another persons blog before until now!

If you are wondering how large each of the burritos look like, here is a picture of each of the burritos when laying on our baking sheet before I baked them!

5 Burritos on Baking Sheet
5 Burritos on Baking Sheet

If this is what all burritos taste like, I am hooked. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as my family and I have.

Happy eating!

Bringing Canada to South Africa one treat at a time!

Ever wanted to go to Canada? I know a lot of people who have dreamt of one day exploring the vast and beautiful country of Canada and believe it or not, I was once like that myself. Although I was briefly there at an age where adults do not remember anything, but that is just the thing, I couldn’t recall it. And because I couldn’t recall it I longed to return at an older age. To explore and enjoy snow.

I only had my first pair of jeans at the age of ten or so. Before that I lived a life in shorts and skorts. So when we moved to Canada, my family and I had to get all warm clothes so we could handle the weather. Especially as it was the very peak of winter where it got up to -18C sometimes.

Anyway I know many South Africans who love the idea of going to Canada but fear the cold. Though honestly, I wouldn’t blame them.

So instead of them venturing to the icy cold country, I thought I would bring some of it to South Africa.

No, I did not get an artificial snow machine though that would have been cool. No instead I made a great Canadian treat that is often enjoyed at weddings and large parties alike. Although these are loved at parties, anyone could go to a grocery store or frozen food store such as M&M’s Meat Shops to buy these treats.

What are they called? Nanaimo bars!

Look at the layers!
Look at the layers!

Nanaimo bars are these extremely sweet treats with a bottom layer of a chocolate cookie base, a middle layer of a vanilla custard, and an upper layer of chocolate and these beautiful things come from the town of Nanaimo in British Columbia. I believe the woman who made these treats entered a competition and won with these things making them the hit of the country! Now they are enjoyed nationwide by everyone.

And this week they were enjoyed worldwide as I made them for my friends and family to enjoy.

Nanaimo Bars

I got the recipe from this adorable blog called I Wash You Dry – how cute is that name? There are a bunch of great recipes on there! The direct link to the recipe can be found here. I did follow everything to a T though I wish I didn’t when it came to the upper level of the Nanaimo Bars. I just struggled like crazy when it came to the chocolate layer. You’ll see later in photos. However below is the recipe:

Ingredients:

Bottom layer

  • ½ cup (115g) margarine, softened
  • 5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ cups (150g) Digestive cookies
  • ½ cup (64g) walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup (75g) coconut flakes

Middle layer

  • ½ cup (115g) margarine, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla custard powder
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream (I used a vegetarian cream substitute)
  • 2 cups (280g) powder sugar

Upper layer

  • 1 cup (200g) chocolate chips
  • 3 Tablespoons margarine
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions:

For crust:

  1. Line tin with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In an oven safe bowl, melt margarine until turned into a complete liquid. In a larger bowl add cocoa, sugar, and vanilla extract. Once margarine is melted, add to cocoa and sugar in bowl and mix well. Whisk in egg and mix until incorporated. Once egg is mixed add crushed cookies, walnuts, and coconut flakes.
  3. Scoop mixture into prepared tin and flatten out. Pop into refrigerator to allow to set.

For custard:

  1. In a large bowl whisk together softened butter, custard powder, and cream until light and fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar to custard mixture bit by bit until custard is light and fluffy.
  3. Remove tin from refrigerator and spread custard on crust layer and smooth out. Return tin to fridge to prepare upper layer of Nanaimo bars.

For chocolate:

  1. Melt chocolate, butter, and cream in an oven safe bowl until chocolate is soft. Whisk until melted and smooth. Let cool for 10-15 minutes.

  2. Pour on top of bars and smooth out, chill in fridge until set and cut into small squares.

  3. Store in fridge and enjoy!

So I really hate this top layer. Really really.

Why? Well for some reason the chocolate formed a gross oiliness to it. Like when you are making a soup and the upper layer has an oily layer? The only word I can think of is “vet” this being the Dutch word for fat. Well the upper layer of the Nanaimo bars retained a lot of fat. To the point where after applying the chocolate to the custard layer I had to pat THREE paper towels on the chocolate to absorb all the oil.

Paper towel grooves in chocolate
Paper towel grooves in chocolate
Oil from butter in chocolate
Oil from butter in chocolate

I think the worst thing is that it wasn’t the margarine that did it. I made two Nanaimo bar recipes, one with margarine and the other with unsalted butter. The SAME thing happened with both recipes. I’m not sure what I did differently from the original recipe, but my Nanaimo bars looked gross when not patted down.

Regardless of this issue I had, my Nanaimo bars came out perfectly. I brought them to tea after Pilates this morning and they were thoroughly enjoyed by all. I even got my one friends son to give in to my treats. He who is VERY strict about his diet and exercising. I am very chuffed about that.

If you all are interested in visiting Canada but cannot handle the cold, these Nanaimo bars are the way to handle all! I hope you all enjoy them!

Happy eating!

Corn Dogs, a Childhood Favourite

What is one of your favourite foods from your childhood? For me it would have to be tequeños which are apparently fried cheese wonton sticks as a direct translation. My sisters ultimate favourite food would definitely have to be corn dogs. So I thought why not surprise her with homemade corn dogs?

It was a good idea. Plus that way I could make corn dogs for me as well. Veggie Corn Dogs – PERFECT!

Corn dogsThat looks just about right. Alas my corn dogs did not turn out that gorgeous. But here is the recipe that I followed, although there were a few tweaks.

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cups haver milk
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey 
  • A choice between meat and vegetable hot dogs
  • Wooden skewers

Directions:

  1. Start by filling a pan with oil and heating on medium.

  2. Combine all dry products together and mix well

  3. In a separate bowl combine the egg and liquid ingredients and add to dry ingredients.

  4. When ready pour batter into a long drink glass

  5. Remove hot dogs from packages and wipe them down then insert a wooden skewer into each hot dog

  6. Insert each hot dog into the long drink glass filled with batter and then place hot dog into hot oil. Turn often to allow entire hot dog to become golden brown. 

  7. Remove from hot oil and place on a plate with paper towel on it to remove grease.

  8. Enjoy!

Now unfortunately my corn dogs did not quite turn golden brown and smooth like the photo I showed you above, but they were quite edible!

Unattractive Corn DogsThe two bottom corn dogs are the ones which contain a vegetarian hot dog, while the other four are whatever meat that is in a normal hot dog. It is very obvious that they look hideous, but honestly they were good. So good that when I stepped out of the kitchen to see what sort of havoc was going on down my road I returned to see this:

Stealing my CorndogsAustin decided to eat the only vegetarian corn dog I had left. I guess they really were that good.

Interior of Corn DogHe’d been admiring them like crazy before, guess he just had to have one himself.

Cheeky puppy.

If you happen to decide to make these things, you should follow the original recipe on the link above. That way your corn dogs will most likely be of a smoother consistency.

I hope you enjoy yours just as my little sister, dog, and I enjoyed ours.

¡Buen apetito!