7 December 2014

Butternut Squash Sheetpan Macaroni and Cheese…Because We Still Have to Eat!!


Butternut Squash Sheet Macaroni and Cheese
 
As my kitchen moves into high gear in preparation for the holidays, as cookies are baked, iced, and frozen, and as menus are planned, I realize that there are thirty more days on the calendar in the month of December other than Christmas Day that we simply have to eat! Plain and simple. To me there is absolutely NOTHING on the planet as comforting as a delicious, homemade macaroni and cheese for which I make no apologies whatsoever for its cheese, butter and carbs. It may even help ease any stress you might be feeling with the parties and entertaining looming. So let's eat shall we.

There are many trains of thought on what makes the perfect home made macaroni and cheese. Do you make yours with a béchamel sauce? Does it come out of a box? Do you make it on the stove top or in the oven? Is it saucy or not? Do you add tomatoes, truffles or lobster? Whether smooth and creamy, stringy and gooey, or just plain cheesy, everyone has a slightly different take on what constitutes the perfect homemade macaroni and cheese. What we don't want are adjectives like gummy, grainy or oily.
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3 December 2014

Warm Up to Winter with English Cottage Pie and the Virtual Supper Club

English Cottage Pie
As we flip over the calendar to December our thoughts quickly move to the holidays. Kitchens burst into action as we prepare for the "food fest" that is Christmas. Throughout the month of December our thoughts dwell on warm, toe curling comfort foods that delight us inside and out. Here in the valley with the temperatures dropping well below the seasonal norm we hit the "I don't want to leave the house stage." What better way to virtually wrap you in a warm blanket by having our team here at the Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club create a menu based on warm winter foods. Warm bacon-spinach salads, hearty soups, slow roasting, self-saucing puddings, and mulled wine come to mind.

We welcome you back to this months Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club where we continue our celebration of delicious food on the "lighter" side. We always appreciate you joining us for this event where we get together on the first Wednesday of every month to create a delicious meal from appetizers to dessert with a theme in mind. Ultimately our love of food, blogging and our commitment to a health conscious lifestyle is what has brought us all together. 


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26 November 2014

Embrace Winter with a Stay at Lake Okanagan Bed and Breakfast in British Columbia


Lake Okanagan Bed and Breakfast
Traditionally considered an exclusive summer destination, the Okanagan valley, in south central British Columbia, is known for its reliably hot and sun laden summers, beaches, and sophisticated and yet laid back lifestyle. Tucked between two mountain ranges, about a four hour drive from Vancouver, the Okanagan Valley enjoys dramatic vistas and abundant outdoor adventures to occupy your time. But often overlooked in this jaw-dropping setting is its winter season. Averaging a balmy 0 to -1 °C (32 to 30°F) during the winter you can revitalize your soul.

We still receive a hearty helping of powder snow for the skiers at our ski hills in the higher elevations but before trading in your ski jacket for a grass skirt, consider a winter vacation in Canada's Okanagan region, toque optional, and stay with my friends at the Lake Okanagan Bed and Breakfast.  Enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Okanagan, city lights, memorable, vistas, and vineyards from their intimate dining room at Lake Okanagan Bed and Breakfast.  Enjoy a 4-course Italian themed dinner and winery, foodie, or cultural tours with a two or more day stay without the expense of jetting off to Italy.

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12 November 2014

Old-Fashioned Pancakes with Apple Chutney and Maple Whipped Cream and a Visit to the Grist Mill



Old-Fashioned Pancakes with Apple Chutney and Maple Whipped Cream

On a gorgeous sunny day a few weekends ago my feet had that wandering itch. You know the feeling when a bright, sunny autumn day has you busting to get outdoors. So I hopped in the car and ventured into the southern interior to the Similkameen Valley. My destination was The Grist Mill and Gardens in Keremeos which has been a favourite of mine for several years. 

Under the leadership of proprietor Chris Mathieson the mill with its natural assets is becoming a foodie destination with visitors getting a tour of the working mill and interactive exhibits thrown in for good measure. The 12-acre site,  with six acres to grow wheat and its own restaurant facilities is perfectly positioned to illustrate both the past and future of food.

On this day my goal was their annual Apple Day celebrations and the promise of a pancake breakfast by our very own Natasha Schooten in the bright and peaceful on-site tea room.
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9 November 2014

Take me Back with Eggplant and Porcini "Meatballs" with Tomato Sauce

Domenica Marchetti's Eggplant and Porcini "Meatballs" in Tomato Sauce the North American way with pasta

If you are like me my travels (whether it be to the neighbouring town or across the pond) are centred around food experiences. In speaking with friends I am certain I am not the only one who relives life's most intimate details through the sight, smell and taste of particular foods. Each of us seems to have a favourite or, in some cases, a most hated dish with which they can recall a particular moment of their lives. I am far more likely to associate a place with the stone cold and lumpy soup I had at the local pub or the shatteringly crisp crust on the lemon meringue pie than the art instalment I saw at the Louvre. For me memories have always been made in the kitchen. Sharing a table and breaking bread together is the best way to get to know a country and its people. The taste or smell of an enticing meal is capable of painting a picture with richer, deeper brush strokes than any snapshot in your photo album. I find it interesting that while I struggle to remember my cellphone number or remember what I did yesterday the merest sniff of bread baking in the oven will evoke a plethora of memories and has me gathered around the kitchen table with my dad kneading dough with 5 year old chubby little fingers with frightening clarity.

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5 November 2014

Make "Thyme" For The Virtual Supper Club with Crisp Flat Breads with Honey, Thyme and Sea Salt

Crisp Flat Breads with Honey, Thyme and Sea Salt
Welcome back to this months Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club where we continue our celebration of delicious food on the "lighter" side. We always appreciate you joining us for this event where we get together on the first Wednesday of every month to create a delicious meal from appetizers to dessert with a theme in mind. Ultimately our love of food, blogging and our commitment to a health conscious lifestyle is what has brought us all together.


Coming up on its 6th year this is a team effort where we continue to share a love for healthy eating and living. The faces may have changed since our groups birth in 2009 but we have always had a love for Cooking Light magazine with its emphasis on healthy eating and living. We look forward each month to strengthening our bonds, and enjoying each others company virtually. The party goes on for days!! This months theme was "Thyme for Turkey" chosen by our very own Sandi of Whistlestop Cafe Cooking . Let's see what we brought to the table cooking with thyme!! 
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27 October 2014

Jack Frost Nipping at Your Nose…Fight Back With Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Okay. I finally admit it to myself. Working 6 days a week and having a personal trainer to gain strength has finally taken its toll on my valued time in the kitchen, reading blogs and blogging in general. It has been hard for me to create a healthy balance and most often I am cooking quick and non-blogworthy dishes or picking up take out (even if it is healthy). For shame. Now that we open the curtains on another season I find myself asking did I have enough creative time in the kitchen, visit the farmers market enough, or spent enough time with friends and family? Maybe not, but I am enroute to a healthier lifestyle and balance may happen gradually. But am I ready to move forward? Of course and with a permanent smile on my face.

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1 October 2014

A Wine Country Feast with Butternut Squash White Bean Soup

Butternut Squash White Bean Soup 

Welcome back to this months Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club where we continue our celebration of delicious food on the "lighter" side. We always appreciate you joining us for this event where we get together on the first Wednesday of every month to create a delicious meal from appetizers to dessert with a theme in mind. Ultimately our love of food, blogging and our commitment to a health conscious lifestyle is what has brought us all together.

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21 September 2014

A Foray into Mushrooms at the Fungi Festival with Paparadelle with Chanterelles

Chanterelles in Cilento
OK I am ready to conform. Break out the apples, the squash and the pumpkins. Autumn is bombarding all of our senses. The bright kaleidoscope of autumn leaves, the nip in the air, the sound of flocks of geese moving on. You can feel the changes at night. As the sun sets, a cool blanket of air gently rolls down the hill. And that, if combined with a few days of steady rains, means we are into the autumn mushroom season. I have waited patently all year for natures work to come to fruition in this symbiotic dance between trees and fungi.  Wild mushrooms, other than chanterelles, porcini and oyster mushrooms, are hard to find in retail stores which may lend fuel to foraging for your own. 

On a rare day off from work this past Saturday I could be found driving 2 hours north to the small community of Sicamous for the annual Fungi Festival. It has been on my radar for a few years but always the timing had been off with my work schedule. So this year I arrived at 11:30 and checked in at the Red Barn anticipating what the day would bring. At the very least I would get a little exercise on an aromatic walk in the woods since mushrooms need trees. I was not disappointed!
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14 September 2014

Savour Summer with a Caprese Burger with Pickled Tomatoes from Sunshine Farms

Caprese Burgers with Pickled Tomatoes
Walking through the farmers market this time of year, you can't help but realize that tomato season is still in full swing. Tomatoes are available all year round but it’s not until mid summer that they really come into their own. With the threat of frost in September the season is fleeting as we savour the last few days of summer and all the bounty it has to offer. The weather begs to differ with hot, sultry days and cool nights but things can turn on a dime.

What better way to celebrate my absolutely favourite fruit than with a Tomato Festival. When I mentioned to my worldly travellers where I was headed they had visions of La Tomatina in Spain . Although it is on my bucket list, this was a celebration of a different colour. And celebrate we did with an array of delicious and innovative little bites topped off with the piece de resistance freshly baked Margherita pizza from a wood fire oven for the first annual Tomato Festival at Sunshine Farm.

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