Saturday, October 18, 2014

Smoky Three Bean Beef Chili

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Fall is here. This weekend we're in Whistler, BC. My favorite seasons to visit Whistler are summer and fall. Obviously, I'm not a skiier - I took a few snow boarding lessons but they weren't money well spent! I'll stick to running. Anyways, Whistler in fall is beautiful - a full palate of colours are awaiting outside my door. Walking through and around the village is always time well spent.

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Whistler, BC. Snow will be here soon.
With fall comes cooler temperatures and cravings of warmer comfort foods. Chili, like this three bean beef chili, is perfect for cool days, and even cooler evenings. Add some warm, fresh bread and you've got a perfect meal to enjoy the colors of fall as the sun sets over the mountain.

Ingredients

1.5 lb ground beef
1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15.5 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15.5 oz) white cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 large onion
6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp liquid smoke
1 tbsp chipotle powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 28 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups tomato puree or beef broth
2 cups shredded cheese to garnish
green onions to garnish

Instructions

  1. Over medium high heat, brown beef in large, heavy bottom pot.
  2. Remove beef to a bowl and leave fat in pan. Add onions.
  3. Saute for 3 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and saute another minute.
  5. Add tomato paste and stir for 2 minutes.
  6. Add beef and stir. 
  7. Add sauce and puree or stock.
  8. Add all beans.
  9. Add chipotle, cumin, liquid smoke, paprika.
  10. Stir and simmer for at 1 hour over medium low heat.
  11. Serve with cheese, and green onions if desired.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Favorite Finds at IFBC 2014

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Some of the swag and goodies received at IFBC 2014!

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Cosmos Creations

Cosmos Creations - these little puffs of corn goodness come in a variety of flavours including:

  • Aged Cheddar and Cracked Pepper
  • Coconut Crunch
  • Sea Salt Vinegar
  • Sea Salt Butter
  • Salted Caramel
  • Cinnamon Crunch
  • Caramel

Cosmos Creations are made from non-GMO corn and are gluten free. Even better? They taste great. My favorites are:

  1. Coconut Crunch - I eat this one to satisfy my coconut cream pie craving without the fat and calories 
  2. Aged Cheddar and Cracked Pepper - it has a sharp cheese flavour and the cracked pepper comes through at the end - if you like savory treats you'll like this!

Their newest flavour is Spicy Sriracha, and yes, it really is spicy. My husband loved the "lingering heat" of this flavour.
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Kukurazu Popcorn

Kukurazu popcorn - this is seriously the most amazing popcorn I have ever eaten. EVER. Owned by a local Seattle family, their goal is to "be the world's best gourmet popcorn company by providing our customers with the most delicious and unique gourmet popcorn varieties." Trust me. They are surpassing their goal.

Kukurazu has 25 flavours to choose from - sadly I've only had the pleasure of enjoying three -

  1. Seattle Style - caramel popcorn dusted with finely ground Seattle espresso. Decadent and Caffeinated! My favorite.
  2. Truffle Formage Porcini - truffle salt, truffle oil and white cheddar combine to make the most sophisticated popcorn you'll ever have the pleasure of putting on your tongue!
  3. Tuxedo - caramel popcorn drizzled with dark and white chocolate - 'nough said.

Next on my wish list are pumpkin spice pecan and maple bacon!

Tcho Chocolate

tcho - on our amazing Kitchen Aid/Sur la Table excursion we were gifted with two bags of amazing gifts. Swag included were three bags of tcho chocolate discs, cocoa nibs and cocoa powder. So far we have only opened the milk chocolate discs. I had grand ideas of baking up a batch of chocolate chunk cookies with them but have to admit that the bag is almost gone and no cookies have been made. These little discs are so smooth and rich that you will have an inner dilemma of wanting to letting them linger on your tongue and chewing them quickly so you can get to the next one!
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Aneto Broths

Aneto broth - this was my most mind blowing find at IFBC2014! We all know that homemade broth is vastly superior than what we, as North Americans, can buy at our local chain grocery store. I try to make stock whenever I can and freeze it so it's there whenever I need it. But there are always a few times a year when I open the freezer door only to find I'm out. I run to the store and purchase whatever is there. Not once have I bought something I thought was good.

IFBC gave me hope when I found Aneto broths in the gift suite. Aneto is based in Spain and have been creating their broths since 2002. At IFBC they also gave every blogger an apron with their blog name embroidered on it! Amazing.


I brought the broths home - chicken and one for paella. Yes, paella. I've never made paella and probably won't any time soon so I had to figure out another way to use it. I had an aha moment when pot pies jumped into my head. I decided to make chicken with the chicken stock and beef pies with the paella stock. (I was also able to put my new KitchenAid Food Processor Attachment to use - the 8mm dice was perfect for all the veggies in the pies - parsnips, celery, carrots, onions, leeks, potatoes etc).

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I'll be blogging the recipes soon but let me tell you the broths - especially the paella broth absolutely elevated the pot pies! There is not only layers to the flavors of the broth there is actual FLAVOUR!

If you have a chance to buy these broths please do, you won't be disappointed!

Olives to Go

Pearls Olives to Go - I love olives but often often get a craving, eat a bunch and then don't get a craving for another few months. That sometimes means I have olives that go bad when I buy too many. Olives to go solve this problem. They offer olives in individual serving containers that are perfect for an afternoon snack or as part of a tapas like lunch (think cheese, crackers, olives etc). Sold in 4-packs, the olives have no messy liquid (great for klutzy types like me).

They come in three varieties:

  1. kalamata
  2. sliced black
  3. stuffed pimento spanish green
All varieties are gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegan, GMO-free, cholesterol-free, and trans fat- free!


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KitchenAid and Sur la Table hosted the most amazing excursion at IFBC 2014.
Note: In order to receive the discounted active blogger rate at IFBC2014, all participating bloggers were required to write three posts about their experience at the conference. This is post #3.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

IFBC 2014 - Fun Facts!



International Food Blogger Conference 2014 Seattle

Seattle - the land of coffee, great restaurants, Pike Place Market and the International Food Blogger Conference. I spent the weekend soaking up all IFBC2014 had to offer.

What exactly did they offer you ask? Well, let me tell you:
·        A chance to meet other fabulous food bloggers,
·        Exposure to new products and companies
·        Attend educational, informative and often once in lifetime sessions with renowned authors, CEOs, photographers, writers, chefs and industry experts
·        Delicious food
·        Exploration of a vibrant, friendly city
·        Swag – and lots of it.

Today, I’m going to share a few things I learned from my favorite sessions. And trust me it’s just a few tidbits from three of many sessions – I have a notebook full of scribbles from each one!

Photography with Todd Coleman

Todd is Creative Director of Tasting Table. He offered great photography tips that I am hoping to incorporate into my photography.  A few of his tips include:



  • Color trumps all – don’t be afraid to go bold with colors
  • Think beyond the table top – food can go anywhere
  • You don’t need super expensive equipment to take great photos – a speed light and some foil for reflecting is often all the tools you need
  • Uneven surfaces make photos interesting
  • Pushed perspective – get in close to your subject. A wide angle lens moved in close can make interesting photos
  • Line things up like soldiers – symmetry is pleasing to the eye –so the next time you are photographing cookies, or shrimp line ‘em up!
  • Make friends with shadows because they can make photos interesting! Find the light within shadows so everything is in balance.

  • “Do something unexpected.” – Todd Coleman

    Cooking demo with Theirry Rautureau aka The Chef in the Hat

    I hadn’t heard of Chef Theirry before IFBC but this Frenchman in Seattle has a long history in the Emerald city. I hear he is much like Chef Vij in Vancouver in that he loves to mingle with his restaurant guests and will even sit down for a story or two.

    At his IFBC cooking demonstration he showed us a simple tomato soup that could be served warm or cold. As he cooked he shared some great tidbits and his endearing humour. Here are a few of the things I took away with me:
    • If you have olive oil but don’t use it all the time, you should refrigerate it so it doesn’t go rancid.
    • You can pickle almost anything! He suggested pickling celery sticks! Just remember the magic ratio 3:2:1.  3 parts vinegar; 2 parts water; 1 part sugar – bring the mixture to a boil and then cool it. Once cooled, poor it over celery sticks, radishes, beets, and almost any root veggies is up for grabs! You can also add a cinnamon stick or other spice if you like. Chef Theirry said you can even pickle apples and rhubarb!
    • To dress a salad with your favorite dressing pour it on the sides of a high bowl and THEN add your lettuce and toppings. Gently mix your greens. Your dressing will be evenly dressed!

    Know your Beef, Know your Butchery: Cut Education Session

    I think I learned the most at this fact filled sessions put on by Beef Checkoff. Here are just a few tidbits.


  • There are three grades of beef in the US: Prime, Choice, Select
  • Marbling  is intramuscular fat i.e. fat within the muscle tissue.  It is also called “taste fat”.
  • Prime cuts have the most “taste fat”
  • Marbling is very important because it affects:

    • Tenderness
    • Juiciness
    • Taste/flavor
    • Marbling also acts as a bit of insurance when it comes to overcooking! If it has a high marbling percentage it will still taste great even if you over cook it a bit


  • Why are beef prices rising in the US?

    • smallest herd since the 1950s because of drought
    • things are starting to rebound but takes time
    • Want to save money? Go for less tender cuts like chuck, brisket, loin. These cuts are close to the animals limbs which means they are subject to lots of motion and thus less connective tissue. This makes them less tender. But that doesn't mean they can’t make great meals! You just have to know how to coax out their best flavour and taste. So when you cook these cuts think braising, long and slow cooking, adding moisture.
    • All beef starts on grass but are finished for their last 100-200 days on either grass or grain (which also includes some grass)
    •  Only 2-3% of the US herd is bred for sale as prime beef.


    My next post IFBC2014 will be about my favorite session: The Sur la Table/Kitchen Aid excursion  and my favorite food finds from the conference!

    Note: In order to receive the discounted active blogger rate at IFBC2014, all participating bloggers were required to write three posts about their experience at the conference. This is post #2.

    Monday, September 29, 2014

    S'more Snacks Recipe

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    My son's snack mix was such a hit in our house my 10 yr old daughter decided to get in on the act too. Her's is more of a treat than a healthy snack but the cereal is low in sugar, fat and salt so that makes me feel a little better about it!
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    She chose a classic s'more mix - chocolate, mini marshmallows and Shreddie(tm) cereal. She threw in some sweetened dried cranberries too.
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    Ingredients

    6 cups cereal - we used Shreddies
    2 cups (1 bag) mini Hershey Kisses
    2 cups mini marshmallows
    1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

    Instructions

    Mix everything in a large bowl.
    Divide into snack bags - 1/2 c of mix in each bag.
    Servings: about 12.

    Sunday, September 14, 2014

    IFBC 2014 - Seattle

    International Food Blogger Conference 2014 Seattle

    I'm heading to my first food blogging conference - IFBC 2014. Since it's in Seattle, the conference is just a hop, skip and jump away from Vancouver. I excited about it for many reasons:
    • the authors of The Flavor Bible are giving the keynote address - the most used reference book in my kitchen!
    • a chance to meet other bloggers - there will be over 400 bloggers in attendance!
    • meet a great list of sponsors including:






  • to learn more about:

      • food photography, 
      • writing, 
      • recipe development, 
      • technology,
      • wine!


  • shop
  • eat


  • The conference itself is priced right at $95 (not including hotel) - to receive the $95 deal, participants must write three posts about the conference (this is #1)!

    The conference is organized by Foodista.com and Sephyr Adventures and was the 1st-ever conference for food bloggers! I'm not sure what to expect but I can be hard to please - I'll be sure to let you know how it went and the things I learn!


    Friday, September 5, 2014

    Roasted Tomato and Jalapeno Salsa

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    So far we have collected about 15 lbs of tomatoes from our little garden. I've made tomato sauce and kept some of the cherry tomatoes for snacks and salads. I would normally make pico de gallo too but this year I roasted a couple of pounds of tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic and onions to create this roasted salsa. I also roasted a nectarine I had on hand for some extra sweetness.

    We ate this salsa with homemade baked tortillas. You can use this recipe to make your own...just leave off the cinnamon sugar and sprinkle with salt and pepper before putting them in the oven.
    Almost ready - the jalapeno will blacken too.

    Ingredients

    2-3 lbs tomatoes, halved
    3 jalapenos, stem removed
    1 red onion, cut into 1/2 inch rings
    1 nectarine, pit removed and halved
    1 head garlic
    1/4 c olive oil
    1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
    salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions


    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Space everything over a couple of baking sheets - leave room - you want to roast the ingredients not steam them.
    2. Sprinkle with olive oil and a bit of salt.
    3. Roast for about 45 minutes, until jalapenos are blackened, garlic is soft and tomatoes are dark.
    4. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
    5. Place everything in a food processor (including juices on pan). Process until desired consistency is reached. I like it a bit chunky but process longer if you prefer it smoother.
    Other salsa recipes to try:

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

    School Snack Mix

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    My kids are old enough to make most of their own lunches. They can reheat leftovers for their Thermos and usually make their own sandwiches. For snacks, we keep a big bowl of treats that they can choose to go along with whatever fruit or veggies they pack. The bowl has a mix of prepackaged treats like granola bars and krispie treats but we also have homemade goodies too. These homemade treats might be healthy muffins, nut-free granola or my son's homemade cereal mix. The one I'm sharing today has pumpkin seeds, cereal, dehydrated raspberries, dried cranberries and mini Hersey kisses. My 8-year old loves putting everything into a big mixing bowl, swirling it around and placing scoops of the mix into snack size bags.

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    Anything could go into your version of the mix. Other ideas my kids have come up with include:
    • flax
    • chia
    • hemp seeds
    • bran buds
    • raisins
    • sunflower seeds
    • nuts (unless you have a nut free school)
    • dried apricots
    • oats
    • granola
    • your favorite cereal
    This really doesn't need a recipe but here are the proportions we used for our School Snack Mix.

    Ingredients

    4 cups cereal (we used Chex)
    1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
    1/2 mini Hershey Kisses (or other chip)
    1/2 cup dried cranberries
    1 cup dehydrated raspberries (ours are from Trader Joe's)

    Instructions

    Place everything in a big bowl and gently mix.
    Scoop into reusable containers or resealable snack bags.

    How many portions you get will depend on size of scoops. Ours made 8 snack sized bags.

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