Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The gut warming chili con carne

Winter is upon us. And here, in the Great White North, living in our igloos and going to work riding the public metropolitan dog sled to the nearest maple syrup factory in a cool -30C degrees (-22F)  temperature, sometimes you just need a little something to warm your innards. Something that's hot AND spicy. And there's nothing quite like a good hearty chili as a square meal to fill you up with warmth and melt away those snotsicles. So, this week for my lunches I made a big-ass chili con carne. And boy is it a big batch! A word of advice: if you want, you can cut this recipe in half, otherwise you will end up having to freeze half of it for later.


  • 2 lbs of extra lean ground beef
  • 2x 430ml containers of PC Original Salsa. (This one is good because is liquid)
  • ~1300ml of diced tomatoes (1 large and 1 medium can)
  • 540ml can of pinto beans, drained
  • 540ml can of red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 small or 1 large onion (regular or spanish onion)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 large or 2 regular cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup of chili powder

To make a chili, it's the easiest thing ever. First, brown the ground beef with the garlic and onions by themselves. So chop up that garlic finely and those onions as well. We're going to cook those in oil first, then add the beef.

While you're at it, might as well chop the green pepper too!

In a large skillet, add about 1-2 tbsp of olive or grapeseed oil, set the heat to medium and when the skillet is nice and hot, dump the chopped garlic and onions in there and cook them until tender and transparent.

Once your onions are cooked, add the ground beef and cook until the meat is all brown, while mixing it with the garlic and onions.

Once the meat is cooked, transfer everything into a large pot.(and I mean very fucking large, hell a giant steel pot would be perfect) And set it on the heat where the pan was, still at medium heat, and add the green peppers.

Open up the jars of salsa and the cans of diced tomatoes and add to the mix, juice and all. Mix well.

Next, add the beans! Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot!

Finally add all the spices, sugar and chili powder and mix well. At this point, I'm gonna let you in on my secret ingredient. Add a heaping teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa and I guarantee your chili will taste amazing!

When everything has been added, make sure you mix well and lower the heat to a simmer. Let cook for about 1 hour 30 min, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick at the bottom or anything like that.

After that, serve in a bowl, top with the Mexicana shredded cheese and a few pieces of baguette bread with some butter and you're done! Now you can warm up to the heat and the spices and feel it in your gut and be ready to fight the great Canadian winter!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Vin & fromages

I haven't cooked in three weeks. Shame on me! I've been making myself lame-o sandwiches for lunch the past two weeks and I'm seriously sick of it. Even though I work downtown now and have access to a million amazing restaurant, I just don't have the budget to eat out every single day. Plus, it's not like restaurants are really careful about what ingredients they use, as long as it's tasty. So it's not necessarily as healthy as a home cooked meal where you carefully use, say, margarine instead of butter, or fat-free Greek yogourt instead of sour cream, etc. Anyway, I've just been very busy the past few weeks due to a bunch of events happening like office parties and get togethers with friends. I miss cooking myself a nice meal. It's a stress reliever for me and I also feel so much more at home and comfortable when my whole apartment smells all nice.

But tonight, I treated myself to something VERY special. My flat neighbour is French - European. Him and his girlfriend went to France to visit some of his family and travel around his country and do some sightseeing. He stayed there for two weeks and brought back some goodies when he flew back to Canada. This weekend, he knocked on my door and handed me a plate with a sample of fine stinky French cheeses that he brought back. I was so surprised and happy! I freakin' LOVE cheese. He told me to get myself some nice wine and savour them. Tonight, that is exactly what I did.

After work, I walked to a big SAQ downtown. It's located on De Maisonneuve just a block east from The Bay. I asked the clerk there for something to accompany some fine strong cheeses. At first I wanted to have port wine with it. A coworker, who's a big wine connoisseur, recommended Otima and the clerk recommended the exact same thing. But, she said that instead of port wine, I should go with a white wine that compliments strong cheeses instead. She recommended a wine from the Domaine de Bellivière called Les Rosiers. It's a Jasnière of Apellation d'Origine Contrôlée from the Loires Valley in France. It was fairly priced so I decided to give it a shot, even though I don't usually like white wine. Who knows, it might be useful if I have any guests over this weekend.

When I got home I stuffed the bottle in my fridge next to the cheese. The cheese had been there for two days and it was stinking it up something fierce. I took the cheese out and let it rest on the counter for an hour as per recommended by my neighbour. When the wine was chilled and the cheese had rested long enough, I poured myself a glass and sat down to taste those cheeses. I was not disappointed.

This is just a small sampler. There is some strong cheddar in there, Camembert and brie I think and Roquefort (blue cheese). Some I forgot what they were called. The cheese had flavour. I mean the taste was there. It was unique and beautiful and just pure cheesy bliss. I don't know how to describe it, but the flavour was just so present, it made every other cheese I ever had taste bland. It's quite the experience. But, the most intense, by far, was the Roquefort. It was so creamy and the taste was so intense. Even way too intense for me and I love blue cheese. Every bite I took, I had to take a sip of wine. Oh and I forgot about the wine. It was one of the best white wine I had and it really went well with the cheese. The taste was very soft and fruity and not too acid. I liked it a lot and accompanied the cheese superbly! If ever you are doing a dégustation de Vin & Fromage (wine and cheese tasting) I would highly recommend this wine as per my experience!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Slow cooked pot roast

It's getting cold outside. Winter is at our doorstep and it's times like these that a sandwich or a wrap or some other light cold dishes just don't do it anymore. So when you come home and you're chilled to the bones, is there anything better than a warm meal chock full of large chunks of soft tender vegetables and beef that melts in your mouth, all with in a warm delicious flavorful broth to heat up your insides? The best part about this is that it's so god damn easy to make and your home will smell so - homey. It's the best and laziest way to make a ton of delicious heartwarming food and the smell that it leaves is like my old home used to smell when my mom made this for dinner. It's just so comforting - like a warm blanket. So, I decided to make myself some this week for my lunches to warm myself up.

One thing you're going to need is a slow cooker. I bought one at a shop that sells crap like all those "as seen on TV" products and refurbished accessories. I bought this refurbished slow cooker at a very good price and it has been one of my best purchases yet. You just plug it in, set it to 4,6,8 or 10 hours and let it do all the work. But! You still have to know what to put in it to automagically create a delicious meal. So, here's my recipe. (Actually it's my mom's. That's why it's so good.)

Here's what you need to make my amazing pot roast.


  • About 4 good sized yellow potatoes.
  • 1 small turnip. (Not the huge one as large as your head!)
  • Garlic. Enough to insert all over the pot roast on every side.
  • 4 large carrots.
  • A couple of stalks of celery. (optional)
  • A couple of hand fulls of green beans.
  • A couple of bay leaves.
  • 1 can of Campbell's condensed French onion soup.
  • 1 cup of water.
  • 1 large beef pot roast
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard.
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce. (Thanks Google spell-checker)
  • 1 tbsp Kitchen Bouquet.
  • 1 tbsp margarine.
  • 2 tbs Club House Montreal Steak Spice
  • 2 tbs Dried parsley

Ok, so let's start with the easy stuff. First wash your potatoes under running water with a potato brush. Do the same for your carrots.

Just Spudzie hangin' out with his tater friends.
Guess which one is Spudzie!

Way to go Spudzie! Good job!

Rinse your green beans under running water and make sure you knock off any dirt and put them on a paper towel and pat them dry.

Peel the turnip. I happen to have 3 because they were super tiny and one wasn't going to be enough.

Next step is to cut all the vegetables in big chunks. Make sure you cut off the ends on the green beans, then cut the beans into 1 inch pieces. Then throw all of this together in a large bowl and mix them up with your hands.

Now prepare the rub for the pot roast. In a bowl, mix together the dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Kitchen Bouquet, margarine, steak spices and parsley.

Then cut up some garlic cloves into big pieces to insert into the pot roast. In my case, I used 3 cloves.

Take out your roast and stab it to make some holes to insert the garlic into it on all sides. This will add extra flavour to the beef and also the garlic becomes all soft and juicy when it's all cooked.

Take the sauce mix and rub it all over the roast and cover it on all sides. Then dump it in the slow cooker and add a couple of bay leaves on there.

Transfer all the vegetables into the slow cooker and cover the beef. Make sure it all fits nice and snug in there. Then open up the can of French onion soup and pour it all over the top. Then fill up the can with water and pour it over the food in the slow cooker.

That's it! You're now ready to let it cook. Just set it to cook for 8 hours. So if you want it for dinner, set it before you go to work. You'll have a nice smelling home and a warm meal waiting for you when you get home. But, if you're like me and you don't like to leave stuff to cook while you're out of the house, just start it before going to bed.

When I woke up the next morning I had this wonderful dish waiting for me to pack and bring to work for lunch! The potatoes, the carrots, the beans and the turnip were nice and soft and the meat was tender and just fell apart as I was transferring it to a container. Everything was just so juicy and smelled so good, it made me super hungry. I couldn't wait for lunch!

This recipe will easily feed a family of four and there will still be leftovers! It's best served with some hot bread and butter. You may want to add a bit of salt too.

I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as I am!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Bacon Pancakes

Ok. You know how on kids' TV show, when the characters are about to do something stupid, someone always says "Ok kids! Don't try this at home!"? Well, I'm a 31 year old responsible grownup and I realize this message is addressed to kids. Therefore SHADDUP YOU CARTOON BUTT BOOGERS! I'M AN ADULT! I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT! YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS O' ME!!!

That's the best part of growing up, in my honest opinion.

Last week, a friend and fellow redditor (that's someone who reads and participates in the discussions on the reddit forum web site) posted a link on his facebook page that he found on the reddit website. That link lead me to a Youtube video of Jake the dog, from famed cartoon Adventure Time, signing a song about bacon pancakes.

WARNING! What has been seen cannot be unseen.

The idea, like every single episode of this amazing show, sounded so mathematically epic that I just had to try that shit out for myself. So, as usual, I decided to do something like I saw on TV, in a cartoon no less.

I made bacon pancakes.

  • 1 cup Betty Crocker Bisquick pancake mix.
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg (or 2 in my case, because I had an extra one)
  • 6-8 strips of meaty and delicious strips of thick sliced smoked bacon.

I put some aluminum foil to cover a cookie plate and placed the bacon on there and stuck that in the over at 350 degrees Farenheit. When it's halfway done, I flipped it over. Easy as that.

Then I made the pancake batter like it says on the box. Just mix the pancake mix with the milk and egg and beat it

When the bacon is cooked and ready, set it aside in a plate and roll it up in paper towels to absorb the excess fat. Heat up a pan at medium low and when it's hot, start pouring some pancake batter and place the bacon on top and flip when the underside is cooked.

When you're all done, put on a plate, pour maple syrup on top, call your doctor to book an appointment to check your blood cholesterol level, and start eating!

Doesn't it look glorious?!?!

In my case, I had some extra batter and one lonely egg left so I made a plain pancake for the top and fried the egg for a complete breakfast and slathered it with maple syrup like a true Canadian.

I ate epicness for breakfast.

About halfway through, I was done I couldn't eat anymore. That was just too much greatness for my body's capacity. Being an adult is the shit. You get to do awesome stuff like this and there's no one to tell you that you can't do it.


Until next time, enjoy this remix of the bacon pancakes song featuring Alicia Keys!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Cunning Linguine with Alfredo's Creamy Sauce

Good evening everyone. Tonight I will be showing you how to make the most cunning linguine covered in Alfredo special creamy sauce. A true sensuous delight both in texture and flavour. Mmmm! I've been craving this recipe for a while now and this weekend I was given a pretty big chunk of smoked ham. I thought this would be the best time to make this recipe and finally quench my craving.

When I initially looked up Alfredo sauce recipes online I found out it was pretty fat. Cream and butter and cheese. Basically, everything that was ever made from the fat of a cow's milk! I'm sure that's delicious, but I have a slim figure to keep if I still wanna fit in those skinny jeans in the future. So, I remembered some tricks my ex-girlfriend had taught me along with everything else about cooking. Some ingredients can be easily replaced by a healthier alternative while still maintaining the recipe's intended taste and texture. Instead of cream, use evaporated milk. Instead of butter, use margarine of course. For cakes, instead of butter, use coconut oil. Instead of cream, use sweetened condensed milk. Etc.

Most recipes I found said to use about a cup of  cream, about half a cup of butter and 3/4 cups of Parmesan, salt and pepper and some herbs and spices. After looking at so many recipes and not finding a healthier alternative, I made my own. So, tonight I will show you my healthier version of Alfredo sauce and how to make a nice pasta dish with ham, broccoli and mushrooms. First, here are the ingredients:

Not pictured here: the mushrooms and frozen broccoli


  • 1 can of evaporated milk (not condensed milk!)
  • 1/2 cup of margarine
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (depends on how garlicky you like it)
  • 1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Pepper to taste
  • Chunk of smoked ham
  • A small pack of sliced mushrooms
  • 3-4 cups of frozen broccoli
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 box of linguini

First, boil some water in a large pot with a pinch of salt and cook your pasta. In the meantime you can do the sauce. For the amount of sauce, I guess half a pack should be just right for the amount of sauce this recipe will make. Once cooked, drain in a colander and rinse in cold water to stop the pasta from overcooking from the heat of the bundle of pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, either press or mince the cloves of garlic. I don't have a press so I minced it up.

I always hated how my fingers smell for a week after cutting garlic.

Open up the can of evaporated milk and pour in a sauce pan. Heat up at medium-low heat and bring it to a simmer. When it's hot and just barely bubbling, add a cup of margarine and let it melt and whisk the mixture to blend thoroughly.

I know this looks like a lot, but trust me on this one.
Also, I used margarine instead of butter because, you know, fat.

All melted.

Next step is to add the chopped garlic and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese. I used fresh Parmesan flakes. You can also buy a block of fresh Parmesan and grate it yourself if you want the extra trouble. Just don't use the Kraft grated Parmesan in the plastic green container. Please don't, or it will wreck the taste. Add the Parmesan gradually and mix constantly to melt it in the mixture.

Add the paprika and whisk to blend it in thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

Let it simmer by whisking it often to avoid it sticking the the bottom. It will eventually thicken as the water evaporates from the mix. Once it's thick enough, you may remove it from the heat.

Almost there

I made the unfortunate mistake of adding dried parsley flakes to the mix and somehow this separated the oils from the margarine from the rest of the sauce. It made a weird chemical reaction, so I don't recommend adding it directly to the sauce, but rather use fresh parsley as a garnish. It also adds flavour and very tasty!

Ah darn! And I was so close to having the creamiest sauce ever!

Next, we need to prepare the meat and veggies. So start by steaming up or boiling your broccoli. I prefer steaming because it leaves less water. Once cooked, remove from heat and set a

While the broccoli is cooling, start cutting your chunk of ham into small cubes.

In a large pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and heat up to medium heat. Then add the ham. Break up the slices of mushrooms into small pieces and add to the pan. Cook until the ham is slightly grilled and the mushrooms are brown and smaller.

Once cooked, remove from the heat and set aside.

Now everything should be ready. In a large pot, over low heat, transfer the sauce, broccoli, mushroom and ham. Mix it all well.

Finally, add the cooked linguine and mix it all in to make a creamy Alfredo pasta dish!

I cooked the whole box and it was too much pasta for the amount of sauce I made.
It was still good though!

One thing to remember, because the sauce is made of cheese and margarine, when refrigerated, it will thicken and harden. So, if you're going to have this for your lunches, like me, it's best to split into separate containers right away, otherwise you won't be able to do it later unless you cut the pasta dish with a knife.


And that is that! I had it for my lunch the next day and it was fantastic!!! The taste was so amazing. The mix of Parmesan, and garlic married the ham, broccoli and mushrooms very well with the pasta. This is a success that I will be sure to make again sometime soon. Especially if I have guests over. It would be perfect with a nice cool glass of white wine!

Bon appétit!