Tasty Treat Thursday – Breakfast Burritos

I don’t know about you but I’m ready for something fun, so how about something fun?

Those of you who follow me on social media know that every Thursday in my office is Tasty Treat Thursday.  We started it back in the fall and it really is a chance to sit down with each other outside of the daily grind. We only take 15 minutes as a group to relax, chat and enjoy some delicious food.  It may be the treats that bring us together but it’s the conversation and the small break that keeps us going to the end of the week.

How it works is someone different from our team is assigned a week.  As a result, we have had a lot of boxes of donuts come in but there are some talented people (or wives of people) in our group.  Some weeks we have been spoiled and have had personal sized bags of baked goods come in.  We even had one week where we pigged out on popcorn.

Jelly Modern Donuts

Kernels Popcorn

I think my favourite of all was the week one of my coworkers had her teenage son bake some cookies.  One batch turned out and I was pretty impressed.  However, one batch did not so instead she brought in some fruit and spring rolls to make sure we had enough food.

Cookies by Davis

Spring Rolls from Western Coffee Shop

A couple of weeks ago it was my turn.  Of course I have been thinking about what I would do since the list was announced back in October.  I had so many things come into my mind but then my world fell apart when my Aunt died and I was tired.  I thought maybe I could go buy some pastries from Corbeaux and be done with it.  In fact I even mentioned that a couple of weeks before my week came but the scornful looks I received at that comment were priceless.  No pressure!

All inspiration had left me, anything I had thought of before simply wasn’t good enough.  I had a few limitations as we don’t have a proper kitchen in our office, only a microwave, so whatever I brought would have to be made ahead of time.  I also wanted to have a savoury treat as something different.  Then I started scouring Pinterest for ideas.  I was on the Food Bloggers of Canada board and the bright light popped through the clouds when I saw fellow bloggers Jo and Sue’s Avocado Breakfast Pizza recipe.

I would be cooking for about 20 people in a limited kitchen.  I thought making enough food for that many pizzas would be difficult so I decided to change it up.  I took all the parts from their recipe and made Build Your Own Breakfast Burritos instead.

I stayed true to Jo and Sue’s concept, just increased the number of ingredients.  I fried up a whole package of bacon, used a dozen eggs and mashed half a dozen avocados.  I cheated a little and bought shredded cheese and tortilla shells.  Shhhhh.  I did make my own salsa though.  I posted that one a while back; you can find the recipe here.

Because I love the sweet I had to bake something for everyone too.  I had quite a few black bananas in the freezer so I decided to keep it easy and made my reliable Banana Bread recipe from Spilling the Beans.  The recipe for that is on the blog too, you can find it here.  The only thing I did differently, because I had some kicking around that I wanted to use up, was add half a cup of butterscotch chips in at the end.

Banana Bread with Butterscotch Chips

After spending the time in my kitchen the night before to get everything ready I felt prepared.  I got to work on Thursday morning, warmed the eggs up in the microwave and set it all up buffet style.

Build Your Own Breakfast Burrito Buffet

Build Your Own Breakfast Burrito Ingredients

When 9:00 am rolled around my co-workers came into the kitchen to eat their treats.  And everyone loved them.  I was content drinking my cup of coffee and eating my own plate watching everyone enjoy their food.  There is nothing better than sitting back and watching people relax knowing that you helped facilitate that.  And for me, that was the real treat.

Tasty Treat Thursday Breakfast Burrito and Banana Bread

Snow and Family

A little over a month ago it happened.  It feels like yesterday and yet it still feels like it happened a life time ago.  My Aunt died.

Here it is another blog post without food.  I’m sorry guys and I promise not to dwell on it but I need to get this one out before I can carry on any further.  And it’s going to be long.

I have so much in my head but I don’t know where to start.  The problem is I have lots of things to say but I still have people like my Mom and other family members who read my blog.  Not that I would say anything that would offend them but some in our family are very private, and this past month has been an intensely hard month for our family.  Yes I need to share but I also need to respect them.

Here’s what I can say, February has been difficult for me.  My Aunt died and we had the funeral in Newmarket and we grieved together as a family with my Aunt’s friends and colleagues.  There is so much around that but I’ll get back to that in a minute.

But there have been so many other things going on, little things that aren’t necessarily happening to me personally but because of the rawness of my emotions they hit closer to home.  Like Michael Green dying in a car accident the week following my Aunt’s funeral or my Mother-in-Law having to put down one of her dogs last week, or even yesterday, finding out that Leonard Nimoy passed away.  All very sad things, plus a multitude of others that I haven’t mentioned, that make me feel heavy.

However, I am trying to find the bright spots.  I need to thank my friends in the food community for being so very good to me.  Wanda at Bakerbeans and Bernice at Dish “N” the Kitchen have been supporting me with positive notes when I need them.  And my dear friend Patricia over at Miss Foodie’s Gourmet Adventures keeps sending me invites to food events.  I finally caved and we had the most amazing Brazilian Steakhouse experience at Pampa last week.  I was a mess that day but I really needed that.  Ok, I guess there is a little about food.

Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse

Of course my family has also been incredibly supportive but my husband is the best.  He can’t even fathom what I am going through but still, he is there.  Letting me go through what I need to.

And that leads me back to my Aunt’s funeral. There are two things that stick with me.

The first of these is snow.  I love my cousin Kristine; she is an artist with words.  On her blog, she has captured in this one post entitled The Hardest Part exactly how I feel.  Once you read this you may understand why I had such a hard time with snow when I first came back from Toronto and why I was longing for sunshine.

The second of these is how we all stick together as a family.  Yes that has changed a lot over the years and what that looks like today is very different from when we were children.  But the foundation for where we are now started back in the day and a lot of that came from my Aunt.

When we were sitting around reminiscing after the funeral we shared so many stories from this one trip my Aunt and cousins made out “West” when we were kids.  We did SO many things even though we didn’t have any money, but it didn’t matter.  My Aunt always convinced my Mom to throw all eight of us in the back of the car and away we went.  Everything was an adventure, EVERYTHING!  Ask me, and I’ll tell you because there are too many things to mention here.

And this doesn’t even take into account the trips we made out “East” when we were all at my Grandparent’s house.  If you thought eight kids in the back of a car is a lot, you should see what it is like when there are eleven!  Yes, that’s how many of us there are.

Because we did all that we are closer now somehow.  And even though on the day of my Aunt’s funeral it wasn’t possible for us all to be physically together we knew, we all were there for each other, as family.  My final memories of the funeral, well, of the place we said goodbye to my Aunt, were us as family.  We were there by ourselves, gathering everything up, taking care of the practical things.  And then when there was nothing left, we took great care with each other as we hugged and said goodbye and went our separate ways.  Going apart but leaving together as family.  I am so lucky to have this family.

So that’s all I have to say.  Mom, I know you are reading so I hope what I said is ok.  I wish I had a picture of all eleven of us to show but in its place I would like to share this great picture of the eight of us during one of our adventures that one summer when we were kids.

Jasper Tramway Throwback

If I could have one last goodbye I would say, thank you Auntie for filling our hearts and lives with happiness, wonderment and curiosity about life.  I am so thankful the last time you were out “West” we were able to make a trip together out to the mountains.  It was a special day and it is one I now will hold forever in my heart.  For the rest of my life, when I sit on the banks of Lake Minnewanka I will think of you.

Love Heather

Aunt Isabel at Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka

Definitely Not a Food Post

It’s been almost two weeks. On January 29 my Mom phoned me to tell me the shocking news that my Aunt died in a tragic car accident. I yelled into my phone, I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it.

In the past week I have been thinking what I would do on the blog to honour her. I thought maybe I would do a post with some of our shared food memories. No, that is not enough.

I then thought I would just share some memories or maybe reflect back on her funeral. To be honest, I’m not ready to have that out there for public consumption.

All I can say was even though we did not spend a lot of time together in the past few years I still miss my Aunt Isabel a whole bunch. She was one of my biggest champions in the blog and supported me all the way. She always did. And now there is an overwhelming sadness that follows me as I, like the rest of my family, try to figure out what life is like now without her.

It will go on, of course. As a family we know this as we huddle together to support each other. And for now I need a break. The food blogging will be back, I’m just not sure when.

Love you Auntie.

IMG_0141

Echelon Foods Turducken, Christmas Dinner and Snow

It happened a week ago, at the end of Christmas day 2014 the snow began to fall on our brown Christmas, quietly and peacefully.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We decided to host Christmas at our house this year and that decision really began in October when I received an email from Echelon Foods.  They asked if I’d be interested in trying one of their Turduckens.  Even though my husband usually cooks our holiday feast he has always toyed with the idea of a Turducken, so we decided to give it a try.

The Original Turducken is a whole turkey de-boned except for the wings and drumsticks then stuffed with deboned chicken, duck and stuffing.  You can get it with two different kinds of stuffing, the Italian Sausage and the Chicken and Apple Sausage, which is what we decided to go with.  It said it served 12 to 15 people, which is more than we needed, but who doesn’t love leftovers?

Echelon Foods Turducken

It was super easy to get one, I ordered ours through the Costco website and it was delivered directly to our door, then we put it in the freezer.  About five days before Christmas my husband took the Turducken out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw out.  By the time Christmas rolled around we were ready.

Because we like to keep our oven free for other cooking we typically use our on the counter roasting oven when cooking up the turkey.  This is how we decided to cook the Turducken.  Before our first guests arrived for breakfast at 9:00 am, my husband warmed up the roaster to 225 degrees F then put the Turducken inside.  All he did was cut it out of the bag and make sure all the leftover juice was drizzled on top.

Turducken Pre-Roast

Then we went about our day cooking and watching movies and relaxing.  Throughout the day my husband checked on the Turducken, basting it and once putting butter on top.  We did have some problems having it brown up but I think that has more to do with our roaster oven than anything else.  We probably left it in a little longer than we should have trying to get it to crisp up but we pulled it out around 5:00 pm.  After letting it rest for about 20 minutes or so we sliced it up and got our dinner ready to serve.

Turducken Roasting

Sliced Turducken

The end result was very tasty. We served it with my husband’s Sausage and Apple Stuffing, Bacon and Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Carrots,  Mashed Turnip, Parkerhouse Rolls from Glamorgan Bakery and of course gravy.  My very traditional family enjoyed their slightly altered meal and my husband said it was the easiest turkey he had every cooked.

Turducken Christmas Dinner

We would definitely try the Turducken again but next time we will try it in our oven to see if we can get it to brown up more.  It was very easy to make and definitely contributed to the day.

And the day ended with snow.  After the dishes were done and everyone left.  After my son and husband went to bed.  After I finished my glass of wine and turned all the lights out except for the Christmas tree.  I sat in front of the window and noticed the snow, the quiet and peaceful snow.

Christmas Tree 2014

My family and I would like to thank Echelon Foods for providing us with a Turducken for our Christmas Feast.  I have not been compensated for this post and all opinions belong to my family and I.

 

The Little Potato Company Smoky Baked Potato Soup

When I originally started this blog, yes I wanted to talk about food, but I also wanted to learn.  It’s that goal and attitude that has brought me to this post.

I always say that I don’t really cook and to be honest I’m not that confident in my capabilities.  I like to eat and can tell you what’s good but I don’t often feel that I can make it.  That is why so far in this blog I have shied away from recipe development opportunities.

When the Food Bloggers of Canada came out with a chance to work with The Little Potato Company to develop a recipe with their Creamer Potatoes I didn’t give it much thought.  I almost didn’t sign up but at last minute I decided I would for two reasons.

First, it was time for me to step out of my bubble and try something new.  And second I thought this was an excellent opportunity to work with a product that I already use and my family loves.  In fact my son is always picking up the little bags of potatoes to bring home during the week for my husband to make.  It seemed like a good fit.

So here I am, I was accepted to participate. I didn’t know what I should do so I involved my husband and son in the conversation to generate ideas.  My son piped up that he would like me to make some soup.  I began thinking and I thought it would be perfect to make a soup that tasted like a baked potato.  He agreed and I started to think about ingredients.

The next day at work I was talking food with my friend Aadil, which is a regular occurrence.  We were talking cheese and he mentioned that my soup would taste really good with a smoked cheddar.  I thought so too.  With that the plan was starting to form in my head.

When the potatoes arrived at my house I knew what I would do and started to assemble ingredients.  Then the weekend came I had time to put it all together.  I put my son to work helping me make my Smoky Baked Potato Soup.

The Little Potato Company Shipment

The Little Potato Company Smoky Baked Potato Soup Ingredients

I was pleased with the end result. I was even happier that my son loved it with the hunks of bread served beside, it was a good meal.  And even though it wasn’t quite what Aadil thought it would be he said he enjoyed it too.  This is a soup I will definitely make again.

Ingredients

1 and 1/2 cups of pancetta, chopped like matchsticks

4 green onions washed with the white and pale green parts chopped finely

1 bag of Little Potato Company Baby Boomer Creamer Potatoes, each potato halved

1 Tbsp of thyme

6 cups of chicken stock

1 cup grated smoked aged cheddar cheese

1 cup sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat a large pot over medium high heat and cook the pancetta until golden in colour.
  2. Once cooked remove the pancetta from the pot and place on a paper towel lined plate.
  3. Put the green onions in the pot and cook using the remaining pancetta fat.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until onions are softened.
  4. Add the potatoes and thyme, then stir.
  5. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Then reduce the heat to a medium low.
  6. Let the soup simmer uncovered until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cheese and sour cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve the soup making sure to get a nice portion of potatoes.  Generously sprinkle the top with pancetta.

The Little Potato Company Soup Helper

The Little Potato Company Smoky Baked Potato Soup Cooking

Just to finish, yes, I was sent free potatoes from The Little Potato Company to help test this recipe.  And yes, my family and I enjoyed using and eating them.  Thank you to The Little Potato Company!

The Little Potato Company Smoky Baked Potato Soup

Mother’s Butter Tarts by Mary Cook for the Sweet Holiday Blog Hop

This week I came across a cookbook I haven’t looked at for a few years.  It was my Mom’s and she passed it down to me about five years ago because I was the only one who was using it.  It is called A Collector’s Stories and Recipes by Mary Cook.  I looked at this worn and well loved book this week with a fresh appreciation.

Mary Cook A Collector's Stories & Recipes

It was published in 1979 and the majority of the book centers around the author’s life growing up on a farm in the Ottawa Valley.  As this is where my Mom grew up and where I spent many summers as I child I flipped through these pages with a smile on my face, reminiscing.

I did a little research on Mary Cook and I didn’t find a lot but I won’t lie, I was kind of hoping I would find a food blog filled with more of these fascinating stories.  Even though I didn’t I still felt very warm and connected.  Then, of course, I had to make my favourite recipe from the book, Mother’s Butter Tarts.

It kind of worked out well that I got a chance to share this recipe with you as I was asked to participate with some other great bloggers in something called the Sweet Holiday Blog Hop.  I have never done one of these before but I wanted to try it out so you get an added bonus.  Not only do you get my recipe but I’m going to hook you up below with the links to some other yummy holiday treats from some good friends.  I am honoured to be included in this group, so in no particular order here they are.

Food Mamma – Candy Cane Bark

Merry About Town – Nutella, Pretzel and Cranberry No-Bake Cookies

Dinner with Julie – Sticky Toffee Pudding

Baker’s Beans – Orange Gingerbread Cookies

Scrumptiously Fit Food – Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Dish N The Kitchen – Salted Pistachio Sablés

Because I Like Chocolate – Vegan Nanaimo Bars

Miss Foodie’s Gourmet Adventures – Hazelnut Shortbread

Now on to my recipe, but before I start, I will mention that there is a separate recipe provided for Rich Pastry but I have never made it.  I will be the first to tell you there is no shame in using pre made frozen tart shells, I do it all the time!  Because of this, I have altered the cooking method to take into account the change.

Ok, here is the recipe complete with Mary Cook’s story.

“Ronny adored my mother’s butter tarts.  But none of us liked them unless they ran down our chins when we ate them.  We liked them gooey, sweet and rich.  In fact we usually had to eat these with a spoon.  They are the best butter tarts I have ever tasted.”

Ingredients

2/3 cup very soft butter

2 cups sifted brown sugar

5 Tbsp milk or cream

3 eggs, well beaten

2 tsp vanilla

24 frozen tart shells

Butter Tart ingredients

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Place frozen tart shells on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Mix butter, brown sugar, cream, eggs and vanilla together.
  4. Divide evenly into the frozen tart shells.
  5. Bake in the 450 degree oven for 8 minutes.
  6. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until the pastry is delicately browned, which takes approximately 15 minutes.
  7. Let cool and then enjoy very tasty tarts.

Butter Tarts Ready for Oven

Butter Tarts Baked

Calgary Food Blogger Bake Sale – 2014

It’s hard to believe but next week is the Calgary Food Blogger’s Bake Sale.  It’s always an honour to be asked to participate and this time I will actually be there, which I am thrilled about.

As a group we will be raising funds for Brown Bagging For Calgary’s Kids.  This local charity’s goal is to make sure that no child in Calgary goes hungry.  They do this by working with schools to identify where children need help.  They then make sure those students receive the nutritious food needed to fuel their bodies and minds, making it easier for them to focus and learn.  As a Mom I appreciate that the 2,000 lunches put together and sent out by volunteers every day help kids just like my son.

There will be many familiar faces with delicious baked goods at the sale this year but what will I be making?  I recently was lucky enough to receive the beautiful Butter Baked Goods cookbook.  This was a gift in my swag bag at the 2014 Food Bloggers of Canada Conference courtesy of Appetite at Random House.  Yes, I know that’s a mouthful but they are all worthy of a mention.  I have been testing some recipes out and am so pleased with the results.  Here’s a hint of what you’ll see.

Butter Baked Good Homemade Marshmallows

So if you have time, stop on by and pick something up.  We will be at the Calgary Farmer’s Market (510 77 Avenue SE) on Saturday, November 29 from 10 am to 4 pm.  I’m not sure when but I will be there at some point in the day to help out.  If you happen to come, please be sure to say hello, I would love to see you!

Calgary Food Bloggers Annual Bake Sale 2014