2017 Cook My Books Challenge: April

I am so glad April is over! Not just because it was a rough month for me, but also because it means a) summer is getting closer and b) it’s now my birthday month. Yes, I’m one of those people who celebrates my birthday for the entire month. J makes fun of me because one year I celebrated my birthday 7 different times.

Anyways, looking back at April I made some more great meals from my cookbooks. I’m especially loving Brown Eggs and Jam Jars from the author of Simple Bites. I can totally relate to her approach to food – good, simple cooking that’s wholesome without going to extremes. In a world of gluten-free, grain-free, Paleo, sugar-free, oil-free everything, it’s refreshing to not feel judged by your cookbook for adding extra sugar to your muffins.

Before we get onto April, make sure to catch up on my Cook My Books Challenge posts:
January
February
March

Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Corn Cakes from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

Andrea and I get together usually once a month to cook dinner together. It’s our favourite way to catch up while also expanding our culinary skills! We usually make dinner – in the past we’ve made a goat cheese lasagna, enchiladas, a ratatouille galette, and far too many others to list. But this month we decided to do brunch featuring this recipe. As we were making it, I realized I never picked up bacon… but that’s because it wasn’t listed in the ingredients in the cookbook! I don’t know if Jessica intended for this dish to contain bacon or not, but it was still good without it. I felt it needed some kind of sauce though, so I made a lime cilantro mayonnaise to have with the leftovers.

Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Corn Cakes from Seriously Delish

One Bowl Carrot-Spice Oatmeal Muffins from Brown Eggs & Jam Jars by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque

I had a rough week in April and needed some comfort food – and at that time muffins were just what I was craving! I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour and decreased the amount of flour by about a tablespoon. Usually whole wheat pastry flour can basically be subbed 1:1 for all purpose, but I bought a new brand that I find needs to be decreased just a bit. I also added a few more tablespoons of sugar because the recipe only called for 1/4 cup of brown sugar for 12 muffins, and I like my muffins a little bit sweeter than that. The result was delicious! I usually make my muffins with oil, but this recipe reminded me how amazing muffins made with butter are.

Carrot spice muffins from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars

Crispy Cornmeal Pancakes with Orange Honey Syrup from Brown Eggs & Jam Jars by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque

Clearly I’ve bee really digging this cookbook lately. These pancakes were also a hit and a nice switch up from our usual banana and almond butter pancakes. The 1/2 cup of cornmeal in here was the perfect amount to add a bit of grit without going full-on cornbread texture. And I love love loved the orange honey as an alternative to maple syrup! Next time I think I’d also add some orange zest to the pancakes themselves to boost the citrus flavour.

Cornmeal pancakes with orange honey syrup from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars

What cookbook recipes have you made recently?

3 Comments

Filed under cookbook

Montreal Girls Weekend

A few weekends ago I went on a long weekend trip to Montreal with one of my childhood best friends. Between living in different cities  and hectic schedules, it’s been hard to find time to see each other lately. So we booked this trip to catch up!

Today I wanted to share with you a bit about the trip:

Where we stayed

We booked a room at Hotel 10, a boutique hotel in the north end of downtown. Our double queen room was pretty standard, but I loved the modern look of the lobby and bar area!

hotel 10 montreal room

It also had some great services, like a courtesy car that will drive you within the city free of charge. Although, it was in high demand, so we only got to use it twice. But the hotel was actually within reasonable walking distance of most places. I say that, but we still Ubered almost everywhere because it was cold!

hotel 10 montreal lobby

Photos by Guy Hamelin. Used with permission from Hotel 10.

What we did

Our first morning in the city we went to Scandinave Spa for massages and their Scandinavian baths. I’m not someone who can relax easily because my mind is always going at full speed. But I think this was the most relaxed I’ve been in ages! The bath area is completely silent, so it sort of forces you to shut down and just be in the moment.

scandinave montreal

Photo used with permission from Scandinave Monreal

The next day we started our morning at the Atwater Market. We had brunch beforehand, but this would have been a great spot to buy some bread and cheese for a picnic. I would have loved to buy some Quebec cheeses to bring back with me, but I didn’t want to have to carry it around all day!

We also spent an afternoon at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which is actually free of charge for admission to their standard exhibits. I’m not a huge museum buff but I took a bit of art history in university to take a break from all my science courses, and I really enjoyed it.

montreal-boutique

And of course we did some shopping too. We did some shopping at chain stores on Rue Sainte-Catherine and also found some cute clothing and housewares boutiques on Boul St-Laurent  in the Plateau neighbourhood.

Where we ate

We decided to wing our meals for this trip, but realized that was a mistake when we got to our hotel and the concierge strongly recommended reservations at restaurants. We saw the truth to this when we tried to go for dinner at a new Italian restaurant, but they were completely booked. Oops.

But our spontaneity worked out in our favour for a few meals! After our early afternoon at the spa we were starving, and we stumbled upon Modavie for a late lunch. It had such a cozy feel to it and we got a great spot right by the window! We decided to split the mushroom risotto with duck confit and the lamb cavatelli with fennel and sun dried tomato. Both were fantastic!

modavie-montreal

One of my other favourite food spots was Lemeac, one of the top French bistros in the city. We split the salmon tartar for an appetizer – my first time having tartar, which is odd considering how much I love sushi! It was extremely fresh and I loved the hint of mustard flavour to it. My steak frites was a disappointment, but only because I thought hangar steak was the same thing as flank steak. News flash: it’s not. It’s a much tougher cut with a more gristley flavour. The fries were good though! And the French toast dessert more than made up for it. It was like a cakey French toast served in the most addictive maple caramel sauce.

Sunday morning I botched our breakfast plans. We wanted to do bagel sandwiches at St-Viateur, one of the most famous bagel shops at the city. So we took an Uber there… only to find out we were at one of the bakery locations, not the cafe location. We each bought a half dozen bagels to-go anyways, then headed back out to find somewhere to eat. We ended up at the nearby Arts Cafe which had the cutest decor!  I had the shakshuka with fried polenta and Lauren had cod cakes with a poached egg and dill mayonnaise.

arts-cafe-montreal

Other places we ate at were Pullman (just okay), Bevo Bar + Pizzeria (trendy atmosphere but their pizza wasn’t great), and Foiegwa (a hot new French diner).

It was a great trip and one I would definitely do again! Although now that I know there’s another Scandinave Spa 2 hours away from me, I think I see another trip in my future…

What was the last trip you took? 

2 Comments

Filed under travel

2017 Cook My Books Challenge: March

As March comes to a close, I can’t say I’d sad to see it go. I’m pretty sure we had worse weather this month than we had all winter. But as long as we don’t get another storm causing me to break my wrist in April like last year, I’ll be happy. I’d like to keep all my bones in tact in 2017!

But one good thing about a snowy March was lots of time to spend indoors working on my 2017 Cook My Books Challenge. I had another month of success, meeting my goal of making 3 recipes from my cookbooks! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Catch up on my previous posts for January and February!

Here’s what I cooked from my books this month:

Tofu Quiche with Almond Meal Rosemary Crust from Sprouted Kitchen

I made this recipe while J was in New Orleans for a bachelor party because I knew he wouldn’t eat it. Onions plus mushrooms plus tofu is pretty much the trifecta of grossness to him. But those are 3 ingredients I love, so this recipe called out to me. This was my first time making a “quiche” out of tofu and I had no idea what to expect… but I was pleasantly surprised! The caramelized onions and mushrooms gave a great flavour to the filling. And the almond meal and coconut oil crust was downright addictive.  I subbed butter for half the coconut oil though because I was worried about it tasting too coconutty.

tofu-quiche-sprouted-kitchen

Classic Chicken Stew from The Best of Chef at Home by Michael Smith

I didn’t love this recipe, but it’s probably my own fault for not sticking to the ingredients. It called for a whole chicken broken down into its parts, but I was too lazy to do that so I just used boneless skinless chicken breasts. In hindsight, I realized that to get good flavour, the skin and bones were probably necessary! I ended up adding extra chicken bouillon cubes and extra salt to make up for it, but it was still a bit bland.

chicken-stew-chef-at-home

Cheesy Butternut Squash Penne from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque

This was a great comfort food recipe on a day that I really needed it. Carbs plus cheese plus bacon is pretty much the perfect hangover cure, no?

cheesy-butternut-penne

Twinkle, Twinkle Jeweled Rice from Naturally Nourished by Sarah Britton

I told myself I’d cut back on buying cookbooks this year, but I broke my pact already! The recipes in this one just looked too pretty. Tracey and I got together mid-month to cook from our cookbooks and we made this rice as one of our dishes. See what else we made in Tracey’s post and my Instagram. Anyway, about this recipe: I liked the sweetness from the dried fruit and orange, and found it really flavourful once I added a good dose of salt. It’s a nice change from just a plain rice side dish, and it makes a huge batch to last you all week!

jeweled-rice-naturally-nourished

What have you cooked from your books recently?

3 Comments

Filed under cookbook