August 27, 2012

waiting is the hardest part (guest blog)

Like chicken?  Got 5 hours to spare?  Then this recipe is for you!

Here it is!

Mr. A's Smoked Chicken

1 whole chicken
8 tbsp brown sugar, packed
3 tbsp salt
1 tbsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1tsp paprika
1/2 tsp herbe de provence
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Wood chips


1. Wash the chicken and remove the insides (if present)

2.  Prepare the rub in a bowl and mix it up

3.  The next part can get messy, so I did it outside on the side of my grill.  You have to rub the spice onto the chicken.  The key is to get it into all the nooks and crannies and give your chicken a good massage.

Gettin' ready for a rub down
Post-massage - much more relaxed chicken

4.  Let the chicken rest while you do the next step.  Time to start the smoking.  My grill is natural gas, and has a cast iron box on one side for wood chips.  You have to soak the chips for at least half an hour prior to use.  I used cedar chips, but there are many types that you can use.  Ask your local wood chip provider.

Tip: Use a thermometer!  Insert an oven safe thermometer into the breast of the chicken.  You want it in the thickest part, but don't put it too far and hit bone.  I highly recommend using a thermometer. Otherwise you will have to guess when the chicken is done, or check it by cutting into it.  If you do that, the chicken will lose it's precious chicken juice and dry out.  That's bad!  Using a thermometer, your chicken will come out very juicy.  That's good!

Thermometer in action.  Mine has that wire that goes to a digital display.  Fancy!

5.  Cook at 200 to 220 degrees F.  You only want to use the the burner on the side with the wood chips.  Put the chicken on the other side.  After about 5 hours, your chicken is done!  Finally!  

6.  But wait!  If you cut into it now, you will lose your chicken juice.  That's bad!  Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes and the juiciness will be locked inside.  That's good!

Let's eat!

August 26, 2012

a tale of two salads

By now, you've probably noticed that I have a thing for salads.

They're also perfect for summer, because they involve little (ok, my potato salad potatoes needed to be boiled) to no use of heat, so you can keep nice and cool while preparing them.

So, when we had family over this past Sunday for a grilled chicken patio dinner (more on that coming soon!), I made these two salads.

You're probably familiar with Greek salad, but the Potato Cilantro salad may be a new discovery.  It's another of my mom's tasty recipes.  I'm not sure where she got it from, but it's been a standby in our household for as long as I can remember.

Here are the recipes!

Greek Salad

1 english cucumber, chopped into 1" pieces
1 large tomato, chopped into 1" pieces
1 cup feta cheese, chopped into 1/2" pieces
handful of kalamata olives
dried oregano (I use an Italian Spice mixture I bought at Costco)
olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt & pepper

Potato Cilantro Salad

2 medium potatoes, boiled and chopped into 1" cubes,
1 bunch of cilantro, washed, dried and roughly chopped
3 green onions, chopped
olive oil
salt & pepper


August 19, 2012

watermelon + feta

This salad here makes me think of summer.  And you know how I love summer.

When I first heard of watermelon feta salad, I was skeptical.  Watermelon making friends with salty feta?  I gave it a shot and never looked back.  It's dee-lish!

Here's the recipe!

Watermelon Feta Salad

Ingredients & Directions

Toss together:
3 cups cubed watermelon
1 cup feta, cubed
handful of washed mint leaves, roughly chopped
olive oil, salt & pepper


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August 15, 2012

my favourite things: basil

Another one of my favourite things is basil.  We're growing some thai basil in order garden and I love it so much.  I love it freshly picked, on top of spaghetti  and eggplant lasagnas, but I also love love love making homemade pesto with it.

After making a batch, I freeze it and use it bit by bit over the next couple of months, making it a great, quick solution for dinner when you're in a pinch.

Here's the recipe!

Homemade Pesto
passed down from my Mom :)

Makes: about 3 cups of homemade pesto

about 10 cups of loosely packed of fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
4 garlic gloves
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pine nuts
salt & pepper

Place all of the ingredients in the food processor and puree until smooth.
I use about 2 tsbp of it to toss with 150g of cooked pasta.


August 11, 2012


I love summer.  One of the best things about summer is the peaches.  Wow, I could eat peaches all day long. I really could.  Feed me peaches all day long, and you'll see.

Anyhow, what with the peaches being so awesome this time of year, I decided to make a peach cobbler for a dinner party last week and used this recipe.  The recipe is stress-free and everyone loved them.

Here's the recipe!

Blueberry Peach Cobblers
adapted from Baking by Peterson

make 6 cobblers

1 pound of fresh peaches, pitted and chopped up into 1/2" cubes
1/2 fresh blueberries, washed
1/4 cup of sugar, plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 recipe biscuit dough (see here)
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375F. Toss the peaches and blueberries with the 1/4 cup of sugar and lemon juice and distribute them evenly among six 5-ounce ramekins or creme brulee dishes.  Dollop the biscuit dough over the fruit.  Sprinkle the top of the cobblers with the remaining sugar and the cinnamon.

Place the cobblers on a cookie sheet and bake for about 30 mins, or until the biscuit dough is golden brown and the fruit is is bubbling.

Let cool for about 5 mins and then serve a la mode with vanilla ice cream.


August 07, 2012

country breakfast (with biscuits)

I went old school this past weekend and made what Mr. A likes to call a "country breakfast" complete with baking powder biscuits.

After having them with eggs, we had them with some of my mother-in-law's scrumptious homemade strawberry jam.

Here's the recipe!

Baking Powder Biscuits
adapted from Baking by James Peterson

Makes 12 biscuits

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, thinly sliced
3/4 buttermilk


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk together flours, baking soda and salt.  Add butter pieces and combine until the mixture looks like a coarse meal.  You can use your fingers, or you can use the two-knife method which Mr. A has perfected (as seen in the video below).  

Add the buttermilk and knead until just combined.  Form into 12 biscuits and place on a baking sheet. 

Bake for 20 mins until golden brown.  Best served warm out of the oven {yay! no waiting time!}.


August 05, 2012

homemade burgers

There's no better time to grill burgers than on a summer long-weekend.  And that's exactly what we did yesterday.  But Mr. A did one better, he made his own burger patties!  You might think that it's a lot of extra effort, but it's actually really simple and only takes a couple of extra minutes (vs. getting pre-made burgers), and the pay-off is huge.  I've never had better burgers at home.

Here's the recipe!

Homemade Burgers

Ground beef, 500g
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
freshly ground pepper, 1 tsp

Combine all of the ingredients, and let rest in refrigerator for 1 hour.  Remove from the fridge and divide into 4 patties.  Sprinkle with salt.  Grill on the barbecue on high, 4-5 mins each side for medium-cooked burgers.

Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo and mustard.


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August 01, 2012

windy, tasty, friendly, pretty city

We're back from the Windy City and loved every minute of it!

best breakfast: Wildberry

best mexican: Cantino Laredo

best fries: Farmhouse

best touristy thing we did: Architectural boat tour

One of my favourite cities, Chicago is.