Friday, December 31, 2010

Mini gingerbread cupcakes are delicious and the perfect size for holiday parties

I know the fad of cupcakes have come and gone, but for (holiday) parties I must admit they are still very fun to make and people still do enjoy them. I found a wonderful recipe for mini gingerbread cupcakes on the Style at Home website. The recipe is very easy and straight forward except I altered a few things. I lessened the bake time to about 12 minutes because my cupcakes were mini; also, the recipe for the icing is way too runny. I made these cupcakes for my girlfriend's Ugly Sweater Party and let's just say that I spent more time cleaning up after the piping bag than anything (I used a mini spatula to spread the icing on in the end). Needless to say, the icing was delicious because it's a mixture of cream cheese and butter. I made these cupcakes for Christmas dinner at my cousin's for dessert, but this time added about 1 cup of butter and a few tablespoons of cream cheese (I eyeballed the consistency). This time around it came out of the piping bag a lot easier!

Here's the recipe:
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsulfured dark (robust) molasses
  • 1 cup boiling water
Rum-raisin frosting
  • ½ cup dark raisins
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 4 Piece
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

1 Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line 24 mini muffin cups with cupcake liners.
2 In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ginger. Set aside
3 In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and then the molasses until well combined. Immediately stir in the boiling water. On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until smooth.

4 Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean and dry, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan(s) on a wire rack.
5 While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, prepare the frosting. In a small bowl, mix together the raisins and rum and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid.
6 In a food processor, combine the cream cheese and butter and process until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and pulse until a smooth, spreadable frosting forms. Transfer to a bowl. Stir the raisin liquid into the frosting until evenly combined.
7 When the cupcakes are cool, tip them out of the pan and frost them with the frosting. Top with raisins.

Makes 24 mini cupcakes
(courtesy of


Verdict: scrumptious!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cooking turkey in an Office-who would've thought?

Cooking turkey on a cart-very innovative!

Christmas Potluck proved to be a popular concept at work this year again, as well as the last. One of the managers graciously volunteered to bring the turkey, and offered to bake it in a portable oven which she owned. We did this last year as well and the whole office smelled so good! This year, the turkey was cooked in her office and everyone who stopped by would catch a glimpse (and aroma) of the not-so-usual sight of turkey cooking in one's office. The turkey turned out perfect and was ready just in time for our Christmas Potluck luncheon.
Christmas luncheon potluck buffet-an astonishing array of food!
I decided weeks ago for what to bring to this year's potluck. Last year, I made homemade green onion cakes with Rachel Ray's recipe. They didn't turn out too well probably because I overworked the dough, resulting in a dry, tough cake. That being said, this year I opted for something that was easy to make yet had a burst of flavour. Turkey, potatoes, salads, buns, casseroles, and perogies were already being covered on the potluck menu so I decided we were missing one food group: seafood. I found a lovely recipe in Sobey's December Inspired magazine. I am a big fan of this magazine-not only is it free, but the recipes are actually very good. The sweet chilli shrimp salad with endive recipe caught my eye. The endive acts as a spoon for the shrimp salad, not to mention it's fanciness. This recipe was so easy to make and was refreshingly delicious, I will definitely be making this recipe again (my boyfriend was a huge fan).

Other dishes at the potluck were absolutely delicious. The turkey was cooked to perfection, not to mention the delicious duck stuffing with ginger. There were mashed potatoes, yams, gravy, creamy corn casserole, spinach salad, Greek salad, cabbage rolls, homemade perogies and my appetizer of course. For dessert, there were homemade squares, trifle, and cupcakes.
Ohmygoodness! How could one not induldge during the Christmas holidays?

My potluck platter consisted of creamy corn casserole, yams, cabbage rolls, turkey and gravy, stuffing and salad! (I went for two (small) rounds after that...
Verdict: scrumptious!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

IHOP is officially open

International House of Pancakes is finally open. I believe it opened it's doors just two days ago, one day later than the scheduled December 20th. I was finishing my Christmas shopping in Southpark yesterday and managed to get a glimpse of the restaurant-it looks huge inside! Anyone tried it yet?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gourmet sandwiches are a nice alternative to the regular sub

It's been a while since one of my girlfriends and I met up. Two Saturdays ago, we went to the Downtown Farmers' Market in the blistering cold and went shopping in City Centre afterwards. Last time I was in City Centre, I completely forgot about press'd sandwiches and ate at Edo for lunch instead.

This time around, I didn't make the same mistake. My friend and I headed straight to press'd sandwiches as we (well, I) were starving.

This restaurant/bistro has a very fresh look to it; bright green writing as their main logo and simple font for their board menu. The chairs are wooden topped with green cushions and there are also booths on the far side of the restaurant. Ordering is straight forward-order the type of sandwich you want, choose your type of bread (white/whole wheat/ciabatta/pumpernickel rye), wait until it is prepared fresh then they'll call out your order. My friend and I first shared the Meddito which consists of Smoked Turkey, Artichoke Hearts, Feta Cheese, Roasted Red Peppers, and Mayo on a ciabatta bun.

The Meddito
We were still hungry so we jokingly thought about ordering another sandwich; we did. This time, it was the Golden Bear (which I'm guessing is paying homage to the U of A mascot/sports team) and it consisted of smoked Chicken, Baked Brie, Roasted Apples, Spinach, Sweet Fig Jam on whole wheat bread.
The Golden Bear
All was delicious. You can really taste the freshness of the bun and all the fresh, good ingredients. The only thing my friend and I expected was the smoked chicken to be ripped pieces of chicken breast, or something to that degree. Instead, it was the sliced type you get at delis. Still, it was delicious
I would definitely come back to this place. Fresh, gourmet sandwiches that won't break your budget.
Verdict: scrumptious!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Baking for the holidays: these cookies could beat the Girl Guides kind

For the month of December at work, a few of us at work (we call ourselves "The Decorating Committee")  have decided to bring treats every other day until Christmas. It works out perfectly because there are exactly 11 people in our branch, and every other day would work out just perfectly right before Christmas.

I found a recipe on Food Network Canada. It's Anna Olson's Chocolate Mint Cookies from her days on Sugar. I have to be honest that I wasn't a big fan of her show, but I've tried a few of her recipes and they've all turned out so well. Especially after mastering this recipe for the first time, I am looking forward to try more recipes from her! I spent a total of 2.5 hours toiling in the kitchen (although I did escape to take a shower while the dough was chilling in the fridge), it was worth it. I think they could beat out the Chocolate Mint Girl Guide cookies-they don't have preservatives and all flavouring is natural. What could possibly be better? I'll definitely be making more of these during the holiday baking season.

Here's the recipe if you would like to give it try. The only thing I recommend is to keep the filling inside the mixing bowl while beating--the recipe says to knead it on a flat surface then add the peppermint extract. I found it too sticky so I just left it in the bowl to mix. Turned out great!



  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 6 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • dash salt
  • dash baking powder
  • icing sugar, for garnish

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 3/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 drops to 3 drops peppermint extract


To Assemble

1.Beat butter until smooth and fluffy. Sift together icing sugar and cocoa powder over butter and beat in. Stir in vanilla, egg yolk and milk. Add flour, salt and baking powder to cocoa mixture and blend until incorporated. Shape dough into disc, wrap and chill for 20 minutes.

2.Preheat oven to 325° F. On a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 1 ½-inch circles and transfer carefully to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies can be lifted easily away from the parchment. Allow to cool on baking sheet.

3.For filling, put egg white in a bowl and beat in icing sugar, a few tablespoonfuls at a time, until a soft dough forms. Turn dough onto a surface dusted with icing sugar. Knead in remaining icing sugar and peppermint extract, until dough is no longer sticky.

4.To fill cookies, roll a teaspoon of dough into a ball and flatten a little. Sandwich between 2 cookies and press together to push icing to edges. Continue until all cookies have been filled.

5.Cookies can be glazed with chocolate to finish or dusted with icing sugar.

6.Yield: Approximately 2 dozen cookies

(Courtesy of Anna Olson from

Monday, December 13, 2010

IHOP will be opening before the holidays

Driving past Calgary Trail North on the way to work, and South on the way back from work, I wonder when the new IHOP will be open. I've personally never tried it, but based on my post about it opening last month, a few people had mentioned that they've got some great pancakes and breakfast items.
Here's an article in the Journal:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Lunch Coffee break!

I love Newget!

I decided to go for a quick walk during my lunch break earlier this week. I've always been curious about Axis Cafe so there I trottled off to. I already ate lunch so I wasn't interested in buying lunch. All I wanted was a cafe au lait. They also sell my new favourite sugar snack...Newget! So I purchased two bags of the seasonal flavour-Perfect Pear-pistachios,roasted almonds,sweet dried pear and fresh rosemary laced through creamy white chocolate (which by the way was delicious). I ate a few pieces of newget, kicked back and relaxed while I read the Parlour magazine,while sipping my cafe au lait.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Heartwarming dim sum, anyone?

In the Howard Johnson hotel on Stony Plain Road.
 It's been a while since I last went to dim sum. My parents usually go more often than me and they usually bring me leftovers. It's always so good! I happened to have Saturday off from my weekend job (yes, I'm a workoholic and I admit it too) so my parents and I decided to go for some good ol' hearthwarming dimmie.

A new place had just opened, perhaps just shy of 6 months, on 15540 Stony Plain Road. It's currently the Howard Johnson hotel chain (previously the Saxony Hotel). There's an Albert's Family Restaurant in the hotel and this is also the site of the new Chinese restaurant restaurant offering dim sum all day, appropriately called Delicious Delicious. Based on what my mom told me, the owner of the hotel also runs the restaurant. The owner's wife also used to work in the same building as my mine, so they know eachother.

The interior of the restaurant is nothing spectacular; to say the least, it's what one would expect from a Chinese restaurant.  Not a whole lot of fancy decorations, perhaps a little run down with dim lighting. But that doesn't (or shouldn't)  interfere with the quality of food-it's usually very tasty. That being said,  I can agree with the latter statement. Even though it's an odd concept to mingle Albert's family restaurant customers with Delicious Delicious restaurant customers, the dim sum here is awesome. My mom has a tendency to order too much food, but that's usually never a problem because it eventually gets eaten, and not always by me (wink, wink).

  To order dim sum here is different than most of the other dim sum restaurants in town. The most common way to order dim sum (for those of you who aren't familiar with it) is through carts. Waitresses push around carts, steaming hot with yummy dim sum items such as sui mai (minced pork and shrimp wrapped in a wonton wrapper)
or cha sui bao (BBQ pork buns).  At this restaurant, you preorder your items. I wasn't able to see the menu because I arrived later than my parents (I was backed up in traffic because of the Grey Cup parade, should you need to know). But after you hand in your order, they give you a print out of what you ordered, along with the quantity and price. Once your order has arrived at your table, the waiter/waitress checks off the item. Very efficient, I think.

Even though the layout of the restaurant is a bit peculiar as it is shared with another restaurant, this actually might be a clever idea so you can offer customers a wider variety of foods. For example, the table in front of us ordered Western breakfasts offered on the Albert's menu, then ordered steamed rice rolls and cha sui bao. What an interesting combination! For all you loyal dimmies out there, you got to give this place a try-their sui mei's are scrumptious!

Verdict: scrumptious

Directions: Delicious Delicious is located directly in the Howard Johnson hotel on 155 street & Stony Plain Road.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sanpachi, a new Japanese/ramen noodle restaurant coming to town

I hope they'll open soon!
The area of South Park on 38 avenue and Calgary Trail seems to be popping up with cute, new restaurants. With IHOP opening soon, I also noticed while I was at Twisted Yogurt, a new joint set to open soon. Sanpachi, which I believe has a location in Vancouver (I searched on the internet and that's all I could find and they don't have a website yet) is "opening soon" according to the signs posted. It's located next door to Twisted Yogurt. I am looking forward to trying this place. I love ramen noodles and Japanese food. I could probably eat it everyday.

Also, on the other side of Sanpachi is a new joint called Wingman. I checked out their menu posted on their window and it looks like they are serving the regular wings, hamburger and fries joint. I'll have to try it here someday as well.

Twisted yogurt: an interesting experience

I am an avid SONiC Glee Club Member- I've accumulated enough points over time to purchase a Twisted Yogurt gift certificate. It's been pretty darn cold here the past little while so I wasn't really in the mood for something cold. Given that today was much warmer than the -25 we were experiencing, I decided I was in the mood for frozen yogurt (with my boyfriend in tow).

Twisted Yogurt has several new locations with new ones popping up soon. I went to the South Park location, on #650-3803 Calgary Trail (where the old Danier factory outlet used to be). Bright green, orange, and yellow walls make this place very vibrant. With silver wired balls as their light fixtures, multi-coloured tiles as one of their backsplashes, you already feel happy to be here. Not to mention the wide varieties of frozen yogurt flavours and numerous toppings. 

So, this is how it works: you go to the back area and you choose what size you want, 12oz or 16 oz paper cups. You then proceed to the self-serve frozen yogurt area. There are 8 different flavours; one lever for each flavour, or the middle lever is the mixed flavour of the two. Their current flavours are listed on the website. When I went, they had chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, green tea, apricot mango, raspberry pomegranate, cola and blue cotton candy. Being the random, sporadic person that I am... I mixed all the flavours except the first two (next time I'll focus on one flavour). You then proceed to your toppings. They've got candies, gummies and crushed chocolate bars, nuts, and even fresh fruit!What a great little place.

Verdict: scrumptious

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Duchess Bake Shop reigns supreme, yet again.

The Duchess before it was eaten...

Duchess Bake Shop. I can't say how much I love it enough. Every time I bring up the name, even my boyfriend knows that I'm in love with it. The other day, I had an appointment nearby on 124st and decided to stop at Duchess for a quick snack. Looking at the showcase like a kid in a candy store, I finally settled on the new macaron flavour, olive oil and vanilla. Very good as usual, but the olive oil flavour wasn't as pungent as I thought it would be. I got one coconut and almond meringue, along with two macarons to go for my co-worker to try. I also decided to get their namesake cake, The Duchess. I've seen it in the showcase several times, but never bothered to try it...until that day. I took it home and shared it with my parents. (My boyfriend got the meringues ;-). They loved it! It wasn't too sweet. Inside was a chiffon cake with a hint of lemon, layered with vanilla bean cream and raspberry, cased in a light green marzipan shell. The flavours went very well together and none of them were too overpowering.
...and after it was eaten. Note the layers. So much effort in this little dessert.
Verdict: sooooooo scrumptious!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Secret Weekend Getaway...

Banff, Alberta

My boyfriend and his roommate made "secret plans"this past weekend for me and his wife. We weren't exactly sure where we were going, but was asked to pack up a swim suit and a dress (hint, hint).

We arrived at our destination about 4.5 hours later, to find out we were staying at the gorgeous Rimrock Hotel and Resort.

Banff is a very popular weekend getaway for Calgarians. It's a close drive and it's nice to escape. This weekend was particularly busy, probably because of the mid-week vacation day for Remembrance Day and many people took off the Friday to make it an extra long weekend.  With no kitchenette in the hotel, one is always stuck with the idea of "where should we eat?" I had thought the guesswork would of been taken out for where we would be eating for dinner that night, but I found out that no one had made plans (or reservations) for that night. This shouldn't be a problem in Banff because it's commercialized enough that we have alot of choices for dinner. There was the option of eating at the two restaurants in the hotel, but one restaurant's entrees were between $100-$300 and the other restaurant was full. Saltlik, a popular steakhouse in Banff, didn't have openings until 8:30pm, as well as another popular joint, The Bison. Rather than calling up the restaurants, we all thought it would just be a clever idea to hit town and just wing it. So we did!

Walking up and down the streets in Banff on a chilly November day, I must say has a nice wintery feel. It's been a while since I have done this...(ok, I'll stop reminiscing). We walked down Caribou Street in Banff and I glanced to my left. I see a dark building with a wooden exterior with little lighting. The Magpie and Stump was apparently where my boyfriend's roommate's wife and aunt dined years ago.

What an interesting little restaurant-wood interior and exterior. Very dim lights inside with interesting souvenirs hanging off the wall. This place is squishy inside, with people backing up right into your chair. I wasn't quite sure what kind of food they served here with a name like that. Sure enough, it was authentic Tex-Mex fare.

I ordered the special that night: tostadas with chili meat, beans, sour cream and guacamole on the side. My boyfriend ordered the enchiladas. For starters, my boyfriend and I both opted for the mushroom and onion soup, which was delicious. 
The yummy soup.

It had a little bit of a kick to it. It was topped with crispy fried strips of tortilla with two white flour tortillas on the side. All of our orders came rather quickly. We only waited about ten minutes, which was great because I was hungry!

My meal was very filling; the tostadas consisted of a lightly-fried tortilla on the bottom, topped with chilli meat, shredded lettuce, and topped with salsa. On the side was guacamole, sour cream and of course, refried beans. My boyfriend's meal looked yummy as well. The enchiladas were filled with beef, rolled in tortillas and drenched in salsa and baked in the oven with cheese on top. My boyfriend's roommate also ordered the same special as me. His wife ordered the chimichangas, which is a lightly fried burrito. That looked good as well.

This place was good. It wasn't spectacular or anything. The food was good and is probably what one would expect at a Tex-Mex restaurant. I think the atmosphere contributed to the whole experience of eating here, to almost feel like you are eating in a small, run-down wooden barn.

Verdict: scrumptious

Lunch break at mrkt

My co-worker and I went out for lunch today and I recommended a place nearby on 105th Street and Jasper. We wanted a simple lunch like a soup and sandwich kind of deal so I suggested going to mrkt, which opened just a few months ago.

It's located right across from the Attia-Reeves building on 105th Street and Jasper. Didn't catch the name of the building but the restaurant is located at the top of a staircase. Below is the night club, Red Star (the owner of Red Star is co-owner of mrkt, along with Soul Soup's Carla Alexander).

The interior of mrkt is unique. With wood as their main decal, the restaurant is shaped like a long, narrow log. The interior is pegged with small, interlocking pieces of dark wood. One of their light fixtures also mimics the interlocking pieces of dark wood on their walls. Their service counter even looks like a big cutting board with different coloured woods interlocked. Their menu is displayed on one side of the wall. When you first walk in, that is the first thing you see from afar (aside from the cool walls).

My soup and my co-worker's sandwich in the foreground.

Now, to the food-the most important part! To be honest, I was sort of disappointed with the food quantity. The quality of the food was there, for sure. My friend and I both shared a meal because I only wanted the soup and she just wanted the sandwich (soup and sandwich is $13; a sandwich on it's own is $9; and soup on it's own, depending on the size, was $4.74 for a small). We ordered the Alberta braised beef with caramelized onion and goat cheese on ciabatta bread, while I opted for the South Indian Rasam soup with salmon. The soup came with a whole wheat bun and the sandwich same with either chips or salad. The actual soup didn't really impress me at all. Although with lots of lentils , beans and other vegetables, I found only one small chunk of salmon in my soup. $4.75 for a small soup and only one chunk of salmon? What happened to quantity control for the price you pay? The sandwich, on the other hand was delicious. My co-worker, who is pint-sized, couldn't finish the whole sandwich so she handed me the other half. I gladly ate it. The sandwich could of been a bit bigger for the price we payed.

All in all, this was a interesting experience. I also ran into an old family friend while I was there whom I haven't seen for a while. This place has potential, but more tweaking needs to be done- like picking up your food orders and definitely monitoring the soup quantity, especially the person who was serving it owns her own soup company.

Verdict: pretty scrumptious

Monday, November 8, 2010

KFC Double Down

The Double Down...

Guest post by: my boyfriend.

"I believe the Double Down was designed by terrorists to specifically kill North Americans through cardiac arrests. It should be called the Double Bypass Down. After the first 3 bites my roommate and I were feeling chest pains and massive internal discomfort. Normally, I enjoy meals that shorten my life span, but this was not worth it. The chicken was nothing fantastic. It was greasy, more bland than expected, and massive. After the first half of the "sandwich," eating this thing became a chore. It was also over priced. The best part of the whole meal was the apple turnovers we were given for free to make up for the fact it took 15 minutes to get our food. This was a food failure."

Consists of two original recipe fried chicken breasts sandwiched between crisp bacon, processed pepper jack cheese and KFC's special Colonel sauce.

Verdict: not so scrumptious

IHOP coming to Edmonton!

My mom and I take the usual way to work which is down the good ol' Gateway Boulevard north. I took notice of the new JYSK that had just opened this past Saturday in the South Park shopping area. Unfortunately, I was still sick in bed that morning so I couldn't take advantage of the fantastic deals. What I also noticed was an "Opening Soon..." sign that caught my eye immediately. IHOP is coming to town! Our very first one. IHOP stands for International House of Pancakes. They are from the States and offer an extensive menu of pancakes and other unique breakfast items. The first IHOP I saw was when I was in Santa Monica 3 years ago. I never tried it though, but soon, i'll (we'll) have our chance to!

Urban Diner on 109 Street (previously Fiore) now open!

My apologies for not blogging for the longest time! I have come down with another less than a month! What a strong bug out there, I tell you. 

I was driving past the old Fiore location on 109st and just off of 87 avenue and noticed that the Urban Diner there is now open! My boyfriend lives a hop, skip, and a jump away from this so I just happened to drive by here. We will have to try it someday.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Revamped old bank on Jasper Avenue now offering great nightlife, food and entertainment

It was a day out with girls on Saturday. My sister and I have the same birthday exactly three years apart. She decided to have a day out with her girlfriends and had asked if I wanted to come along. Why not I'd thought, afterall, we do share the same birthday and a day out with the girls always involves mischevious fun. After shopping along 124th district, we were all hungry by the time the shops closed down for the day. I suggested Moriarty's to my sister as I have been there before, and enjoyed it very much. Being a Saturday evening, of course they were jam packed with reservations already and only had bar seating avail, which did not interest us very much. We left in search of another restaurant nearby. I then suggested The Treasury Vodka Bar & Eatery, and had read on the journal that their food was supposed to be delicious. We settled down here and was seated to the left of the entrance, which was a bird's eye-view reflection to the men's bathroom...

The large, movable booths were comfy; the lighting was dim (the lead waitress turned up the lights not long after we were seated), beautiful chandeliers and sleek flooring. We were seated in a location that one could look into the reflection of the mens bathroom, well a urinal (!), as they were mirrored tiles on the men's (and women's) bathroom. Funny to mention, I know. We even pointed that out to the lead waitress and she mentioned that they will eventually put a curtain up (she also pointed out we were the first to mention that to her!). The restaurant was rather cold, not because we were seated next to the entrance, but because the boiler in the building shut down and had to be turned on again. They had to contact the owner of the building and gain permission to turn it back on. Boy, did I feel for those waitresses wearing their short LBD's!

Normally, one would not expect great food from a venue that offers great nightlife. This place totally proves wrong! Some dishes are traditional favourites, but are 'fancied' up. For example, I ordered the chicken pot pie.
My chicken pot pie.

 Instead of potatoes, substituted was yellow squash and sweet potatoes. Yum! It was presented in a large, rounded bowl with a round puff pastry on top. It was delicious.
My sister ordered the gnocchi palmadorro.

My sister's gnocchi palmadorro.
 It consisted of those small potato dumplings, scallops and black tiger shrimp presented in a bold pesto sauce, topped off with micro-greens and purple cabbage. The other gals ordered salads (one caesar, the other not quite sure what the name was) and a pasta dish with mushrooms that smelled and looked equally delicious as the rest of our dishes.

If you are looking for a good place to dine, don't be deceived by the name or look of this place. The fare here is delicious.

Verdict: Scrumptious!
Treasury Vodka Bar and Eatery on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 23, 2010

HAPPY 10 YEARS FOOD NETWORK CANADA! I've been a fan since day one

Food Network Canada celebrates 10 years this month: October 2, 2000 - October 2, 2010. And I've been a fan since day one. I remember watching Iron Chef back in 1998 on Food Network--way before it got popular. Some of my favourite shows on Food Network in the past were The Inn Chef, New Classics with Rob Feenie and License to Grill. Today, I still enjoy watching Michael Smith and his Chef at Home series and Bob Blumer in his always entertaining Glutton for Punishment series. There's a a special edition of TV Guide Canada for Food Network celebrating over the 10 years. If you are a Food Network Canada fan, I highly recommend this mag. Though a bit pricey for it's thickness (it's quite thin), there are great recipes and excellent personal profiles on your favourite Food Network Canada chefs. A great souvenir!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Urban Diner to open at previous Fiore location on 109 Street

As my boyfriend and I were walking to the Sugar Bowl to meet up with some friends, I noticed that Fiore has shut down. Urban Diner will soon be taking over the venue! They even chopped down the trees that deliberately obscured the patio. I will keep my eyes peeled! :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

New casual fine dining restaurant in new Southwest Edmonton hotel

My boyfriend and I tend to be quite tired Friday evenings; a long day of work and running around getting errands done. I usually love cooking for the both of us but today was no exception. I threw out a bunch of suggestions for restaurants since there has been a bit of growth in Southwest Edmonton. I've been wanting to try this new restaurant in the new Sandman Signature hotel that just opened in Southwest Edmonton, just off of Gateway Boulevard. It looked kind of pricey from the outside and I wanted to be sure. They didn't have an online menu so we drove there and asked for a quick glance at the menu. It was quite reasonably priced, so Rockford Grill it was for dinner!
The Rockford Grill is a new restaurant that is associated with the powerhouse franchisee  who also owns Moxie's Classic Grill, The Shark Club, Denny's and Chop Steak House. I would say it is classified as casual fine dining--as we chatted with our waitress, it's a "step above Moxie's."
Outside view of Rockford Grill
The ambiance of the restaurant is sort of typical in casual fine dining restaurants-oversized light fixtures, dim-lighting, dark booths and chairs and eclectic art pieces here and there.
Interior of Rockford
On the dining side of the restaurant (it's separated into the dining room and lounge side). On the dining side, there's a huge black chalkboard located on the corner of the wall with all the different wines they offer. I thought that was a cute and rather unique concept because as your wine selection changes, you can simply just erase and write over it. We sat in front of the lounge for a few minutes while we were waiting for our table. Not long after, we were seated in the lounge side of the restaurant. Similar to the dining room, we were seated in the back corner in a high booth. I always love sitting in booths!

I scanned through the menu and the dishes they offer are typical of a casual fine-dining restaurant; Asian-inspired cuisine, signature sandwiches, salads, and main entrees such as ribs and steak.  My boyfriend and I first opted for the five mushroom appetizer as we are both lovers of mushrooms.  Shitake, cremini and white button mushrooms and two other kinds I can't recall. Sauteed with wine and tonnes of garlic, you can't go wrong with this appie! We also each ordered a slushie drink each; mine was lychee liquor and mango and my boyfriend ordered the strawberry swirl with vanilla liquor. Yummy!

Our drinks and our appie; sauteed mushrooms.
I normally take a while to decide what I want at a new restaurant I've never been to, but I was craving flat bread (yes, flat bread) because I had just spoke to my mom and she had just ate at the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company in Canmore.  That being said, I ordered myself the avocado and shrimp flat bread with house-made potato chips as a side. My boyfriend opted for the Mongolian BBQ sauce ribs with fennel salad and hand-cut french fries. I asked for my flat bread to be unrolled so I could eat everything separately (yes, I am odd that way). The flat bread was spread with avocado and the shrimp was marinated in a tangy lime sauce. It was pretty tasty, but the flatbread could of been toasted a bit more. The house-made potato chips on the other hand were a little too burnt for my liking; of course the lighting was dim so it made it a bit harder for me to see how badly burnt it was (I took a picture of my food but accidentally deleted it...)

Mongolian BBQ ribs with fennel slaw and fries
My boyfriend enjoyed his dish--I snuck a few tastings or two and the ribs were indeed tasty. I enjoyed the fennel slaw on the side; something refreshing. The fries were better than mine because they weren't burnt. 

We didn't bother with desserts as we were quite stuffed.

I think this restaurant was quite good. Perhaps the lighting was too dim for my liking, but the ambiance is nice. For a restaurant that's connected to the Sandman suites, I think it's worth visiting at least once if you happen to be in the area.

Verdict: scrumptious

Rockford Grill is located right in front of the new Sandman Signature Hotel on 10011 Ellerslie Rd SW, just East of Gateway Boulevard South.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Yummy 'newget' in town!

Hot chocolate flavour: marshmallows, roasted almonds, fresh cinnamon in a chocolate newget. Yum!

What a great encounter I had at the Downtown Farmer's Market on September 25th. I was heading straight to the Eva Sweet's waffle van when I glanced on my right and two girls were handing out free samples of nougat. I tried once piece and told them I'd be right back as my stomach was grumbling for breakfast! Not too long after I finished my waffle, I moisied my way back there. What yummy treats they have! This company calls themselves  The Newget Kompany. A little pricey a first glance ($7/100g bag), they are indeed gourmet treats. A unique twist on the traditional Italian nougat (that chewy bar made of sugar, egg whites and almonds), this 'kompany' boasts flavours like hot chocolate,
which is a spin on the drink, made of milk chocolate, marshmallows, roasted almonds and fresh cinnamon. Delish! They also offered a seasonal flavour-white chocolate, pistachio and organic edible flower, which I purchased as this was the last week they'd be selling that flavour.

Verdict: scrumptious!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Albertan, Aboriginal-inspired cuisine

There's this restaurant in the west side of Edmonton that I've been wanting to try for the past, I'd say, two years. My sister and I decided to do a double date dinner with our boyfriends the night before our birthday to celebrate and enjoy eachother's company. She suggested Murrieta's on Whyte, but the only time they had available was 8pm or later. My sister's boyfriend is an avid football fan so after 8 would work a lot better for him, given the Saskatchewan Roughriders were playing that night. That's when I suggested to my sister that restaurant in the west end that I so keenly wanted to try: Homefire.

The decor in this restaurant is similiar to the way it sounds; cozy and warm with a pretty fireplace in the middle of the restaurant. Sure enough, the waiter seated us right beside the fire (after waiting around for almost 5 minutes with no host/hostess to greet us). The lighting is dim and the decor has Aboriginal inspirations: silhouettes and stick drawings reminsicent of the culture.

All the prices on the menu were very affordable, surprisingly. Although I glanced at the website quickly to see their menu items, I did not expect a restaurant like this to be reasonable priced. The first item that caught my attention was the homemade bannock. Yum! That definitely reminds me of the times that I've visted Fort Edmonton Park as a kid to make bannock in an old-fashioned kitchen.

Bannock bread with whipped maple butter (L); creole creamy shrimp with pizza style bread (R)

Lamb burger with Saskatoon berry relish!
We all shared a basket of bannock bread for $7, served with whipped maple butter on the side. It was tasty, but I found the bannock to be on the dry side. I opted for the lamb burger with homemade Saskatoon relish (anything homemade always gets my attention first), veggies and mashed potatoes. The burger itself was delicious. The Saskatoon berry relish was delicious--tart and sweet, it was a great addition to the lamb. The mashed potatoes were a bit too salty, but were still good. My boyfriend ordered the stir-fry dish, an interesting option at an Aboriginal inspired restaurant. Although, you will find alot of stir-fry dishes at non-Asian restaurants. The sauce on his stir-fry was a little too sweet for my liking, but he's got a sweet tooth so it worked out for him! My sister's boyfriend opted for the same choice as me (the Saskatoon berry relish got him, too). My sister settled on the buffalo meatloaf, which I forgot to try because I was too busy working on my lamb burger!

No room for dessert right now. And, I already had dessert laid out for us because I had gone to the Downtown Farmer's Market during the day and purchased 4 cupcakes for each of us from Karen's Cake in a Cup, each one a different flavour for us to eat at home.

I recommend this restaurant if you want to try original, Aboriginal-inspired cuisine. The prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is cozy, just like the name suggests.

Verdict: scrumptious!

Monday, September 27, 2010

My attempt at making sweet potato cheesecake

September is birthday month in my family. First, it's my mom's birthday, then it's me and my sister's birthday (same day) and then it's my grandma's birthday. It's almost too much cake in one week! That being said, I found it necessary to try my cake baking skills for my mom's cake. What kind of cake did I decide on? Why not make use of the yam that's been sitting in the pantry for a while...voila, sweet potato cheesecake!

From what I've read, sweet potato cheesecake is quite common in the southern States, like Georgia. The sweet potato makes the cheesecake and other cakes very moist, and not to mention healthy too!
The recipe I got was from and consisted of the following:


  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 7/8 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C ). Mix together graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 1/2 inch springform pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool. Don't turn the oven off.
  2. Place potatoes in a baking dish. Bake until a knife inserted in center goes through easily, about 1 hour. Don't turn oven off. Cool sweet potatoes enough to handle, peel, and puree.
  3. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of sweet potato puree to a large bowl. Add cream cheese, 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar, sour cream and 1/4 cup cream; beat until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Pour filling into crust.
  4. Bake until tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour. Turn off the oven. Let cake stand 1 hour in oven with door ajar.
  5. Combine brown sugar and 1/4 cup butter or margarine in a heavy small saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat, and bring to a boil. Mix in 1/4 cup cream, then nuts. Pour hot topping over cheesecake. Refrigerate.
Please ignore the melted purple icing flowers...
The recipe was very easy to following, and the outcome was great! I put a pan of water underneath the cake so it would not crack in the centre while baking. In addition to the recipe above, I swapped the graham cracker crust with a shortbread crust (I'm not a big fan of graham cracker crusts), added cinnamon to the filing (you can add nutmeg as well) and topped the cake off with toasted pecans I popped in the oven for about 15 minutes (I tossed the pecans in a little bit of oil and brown sugar). This added a lot more flavour to the cake and brought the sweet potato even more, I think.

All in all, the cake was a success! My whole family enjoyed it, as well as my boyfriend. The cake wasn't too sweet and everything was natural and free of preservatives. You can store the cake for about a week, perhaps even longer, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Verdict: scrumptious!

Visit for more great recipes.

New Vietnamese/Thai fusion bistro in Southwest Edmonton

I know, I know, I haven't written in my blog for so long! Has it been ten days already? I've been away sick for the past week, so I haven't really gotten a chance to blog about my adventures in between.

I have a new family doctor that's located in a new community in Southwest Edmonton called Summerside. Within the past year, Save On Foods, Good Earth and Brewster's have popped up, including cute little restaurants/bistros like Teriyaki Corner (which I blogged about). Most recently, I was curious about a Vietnamese/Thai bistro that had just opened. It's called minimango, and it's a small sister business of a restaurant on 91st and 82 ave called "Sweet Mango" (I've been to this place before; it's alright).

The decor is very sleek and modern looking. Dark flooring, orange plastic light covers, raised barstools and booths, accompanied by a large picture consisting of smaller pictures of the Vietnamese culture; one would want to eat here just because of the cool decor.

Their menu was electronic on flatscreen televisions. I'm personally not a fan of electronic menus, but I suppose their easier to change if their menus fluctuate. That being said, I was having sort of a tough time reading the menu, so the cashier upfront handed my boyfriend and I paper menus. I scanned and scanned the menu. All I wanted was a simple Pho soup with beef, good broth and noodles. So I opted for the beef lover's choice (beef balls, tendon, and beef slices) for $7.95. My boyfriend opted for something a little less ordinary: Tom Yum Coconut noodle soup for $11.95. I also wanted the salad rolls for the appetizer. It was a whopping $5.95 for only 3 rolls!

We waited 7-8 minutes before our food came. We both munched on the salad rolls first. Not too bad. The sauce wasn't the typical dipping sauce for salad rolls which consists of hoi sin sauce. It was still tasty, but for almost $1.98/piece, I definitely won't be getting that next time. Next up was my Pho soup. The soup could of been hotter; the broth wasn't bad but wasn't as bold as I wanted it to be. The beef slices were too tough and if I remembered correctly, they only gave me about 2-3 beef balls. On the other hand, my boyfriend extremely enjoyed his new experience tasting the Tom Yum Coconut noodle soup. Topped with shrimp and mussels, his was a bit more appealing than mine.

Overall, the restaurant wasn't horrible. It wasn't spectacular either. The prices are a bit high and for Pho, I'd rather go somewhere more authentic. But it was a great experience for my boyfriend!

Verdict: pretty scrumptious

If you are interested in going, they are located just in the new shopping complex of Summerside on 91st and Ellerslie Road (9th ave SW). They don't have a website yet.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Apple season in full swing: time to make apple crumble.

Despite the frost that had to be scraped off my car this morning, it is indeed apple season! I am normally allergic to the pesticides that are sprayed on the peel of the apple so everytime I eat an apple, I must peel it.  My co-worker was giving apples away from her apple tree in her backyard and I had asked if I could have some. And such big and beautiful apples they were! And I don't have to peel the skin off! They looked like store-brought ones, and she even told me that some of them were spliced with pears so the colour of them were a bit lighter. And they did have a subtle taste of pear, too. Besides eating the apples all to myself, I decided to make some apple crumble.
Mmmmm. I love apple season!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fall Flavours, P.E.I

I know I am not going to P.E.I anytime soon again, but I do wish that I was at the Fall Flavours Festival going on now till September 30th. The event showcases local cuisine and produce of the island, as well as local talents. Chef Michael Smith will be cooking on NFL ferries, there will be picnics with great food on local beaches and clam digging on beaches.

Mushroomfest at Sorrentino's

If you haven't heard already, it's Mushroomfest at Sorrentino's!
From September 1-30, yummy dishes are centred around this great vegetable.
Mmmmmm. I love mushrooms!

I must try all the recipes in the best cook book ever!

I got this wonderful cookbook for Christmas because I had asked for it. I discovered it while reading Books to Watch For in the Elle Canada magazine. Since then, I have not been able to book that darn book down! The concept is artsy, the content is witsy and the recipes are fantastic! Anyhoot-I'm just writing about this cookbook because my goal is to try every single recipe in this book. Guinea pigs? Mostly my boyfriend and my family.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I finally caught the mobile waffle van!

It's been nearly a month since I wanted to try a waffle from this mobile waffle van. I had seen it several times driving around the city and parked at their original location on 107 Street in front of the WCB Building. Eva Sweets is the name of this mobile Belgian waffle company. They pump fresh Belgian waffles from this van regulary at their 107 street location (although I couldn't find them on some occasions...) The van is normally there from about 8:00 am to about 2:00 pm. They can also be found at the City Centre Market 8 am-3pm and at the Beverly Farmer's Market on Tuesdays 4pm-8pm and the Millwoods Farmer's Market on Thursdays 5-8pm (taken from their website).

I suggest you give it a try if you happen to be at those locations. They import pearl sugar straight from Belgian and when the waffle is fresh, the sugar is carmelized on the outside, giving it a richer flavour than most waffles. Yummiers! At $3 a waffle, that's very affordable.

Verdict: scrumptious!

Monday, September 6, 2010

My first royal icing flower cake (with a little too much buttercream icing)...

I just finished taking a cake decorating class at Michael's. My co-worker had reminded me about this course. I had taken the basic first course 2 or 3 years ago and for some reason didn't go on and progress to the other classes. She mentioned that she taught these courses and had a side business of making cakes. Bingo! I want to take the second class! I'm very spur of the moment person; if it's something that I want to do I'll do it. And quite often, I'm serious about it.

That being said, the course was only 4 weeks long. I had to miss the second class because I was on vacation. That actually left me quite far behind in class. Not only did I miss the one class, but I failed to bring royal icing to the next class to practice making flowers. Completely embarassed (face probably red), my other classmates were very kind to lend me their icing and some (most) of the materials I needed. Talk about vacay mode! But I still stuck around because the instructor wanted me to see what was going to be made for this class.

So over the weekend, I dwelled at flower making for nearly 4 hours. I'm not kidding. From making the royal icing to laying the flowers to dry and washing my tools. I had "pastry bag" hand because I was gripping the bag so tight that the tendons on my right hand were sore. That being said, I was quite happy with the results of my flowers. These very flowers ended up on my final cake.

Baking is fun. I cannot say I am crazy about it just yet because it's quite time consuming, especially these darn royal icing flowers. But do they ever look good! They taste good, too (according to my boyfriend).