Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Best Meatloaf Ever

Dear Jess,

Things are too busy. You know I love to keep a certain level of 'busy' but it's getting out of hand. I haven't vacuumed my room in forever, and I'm getting frustrated with planning things because I just want to sit and be quiet for longer than 5 minutes. *inhale*... *exhale*... Everything that I'm busy with (ranging from Kristy's wedding, to yoga, to working Monday-Saturday, to church and small groups and trying to get into a running routine) is all great. I love doing every single one of them. But I am always feeling like I'm doing a juggling act and if I add even one more thing I will end up dropping a ball. I am greatly looking forward to this (long) weekend so I can breathe and re-group.

That being said, I really do like everything I'm doing. This includes cooking! Whenever I ask Jason what he wants me to make, 4 out of 5 times he will say 'meatloaf', and 4 out of 5 times I will think 'that's not adventurous enough!' One day my mom made meatloaf, and we asked Jason if he liked it. He said 'Well... yes, but I don't have much of a reference... this is the first time I've tried meatloaf!' So this whole time he has been asking for meatloaf, it has been because he had never had it before! And I had no idea so I always brushed it off! How mean is that?! So, this time, when he asked for meatloaf I set off to find the best meatloaf ever.

We had success. I literally Googled 'Best Meatloaf Ever' and I got a recipe from Cooks.com. I was drawn to it because it appeared to mix a lot of my favourite flavours. When reading the reviews, people were loving it. The only consistent problem they had was that it was too moist. In fact some people ended up with soup instead of loaf. So I cut down (a lot) of liquid ingredients. It turned out so yummy! I will be making this one again for sure.

We made Sweet Potato Wedges and Steamed Broccoli for 'sides'

Best Meatloaf Ever
adapted from this recipe
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1 cup fresh Italian style bread crumbs
3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 egg
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

1. In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, ketchup, Balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce.
2. In a large bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs, onions, red bell pepper, garlic, egg, seasonings, Parmesan cheese, and 3/4 of your tomato mixture that you just made.
3. Form into a loaf. Place into a bread loaf tin, lightly oiled. Spoon some of the remaining liquid over the top.
4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Spoon on a good layer of the last of your sauce and put back in for 15 minutes.
5. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes and serve!

Congratulations on your new job!!!! I am so happy for you! I miss you terribly (as you already know.) I hope we can see each other soon. Maybe a Skype Date soon?

Also, I am hoping to start Spanish Lessons in September. Let me know if you know of any good places in Peterborough. I hear Fleming has some good ones, but I'm having a hard time navigating their website.

Have such a good week and long weekend!

I love you,

Friday, June 24, 2011

Yummy Salad and Celebratory Pie


I have news :) Really good news. I heard back about the job . . . and I got it! I want to give you all the details but I will share them in person. I have been so happy and excited all morning that I decided to put my busy hands to work. I made a delicious chickpea and spinach salad. The lemon vinaigrette dressing was a wonderful compliment to the red onions and it was all topped off with a light orange yogurt sauce.

I also had some rhubarb in the freezer so I decided to make a fresh strawberry rhubarb pie f
or the Brickell family in celebration of such good news. As you know I am not the pastry queen and avoid making pies because of it but I felt optimistic today.

I am sorry that this entry is short but I had to tell you! You have been so supportive with your prayers and encouragement and I couldn't wait to share.

I hope you are well. I miss you terribly!


(adapted from dishfolio)
  • 1/3 cup lowfat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/8 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves (or more)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • good pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves (or more)

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, orange zest, orange juice and honey.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the chickpeas, parsley, mint and onion. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the chickpea mixture and toss to combine. Serve the chickpea salad over a bed of spinach leaves. Top with the yogurt sauce.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chicago Eating

Dear Jess,

I do not have recipes for this entry. Instead I have a story with food included.

Wednesday evening I flew back home after spending 4 days in Chicago for the NeoCon Convention in the Merchandise Mart. My dad sent me there to gain knowledge in regards to furniture and design. I was able to meet up with our London team and tour around with them. I learned so much and it really got me excited about design and colour as applied to our business. I met some 'high up' people in companies that we design/deal with regularly.

There are so many things/places to see in Chicago. Since the convention took up so much of our time we were limited with how much of it we could see. That being said... what we did see was a blast.

Rachel Ray did a survey for North America's best Hot Dog. Lucky Number One was Gene & Jude's. This is where our culinary escapade began. You walk up to it and realize that the people packed into the tiny restaurant are not sitting, they are actually standing in a line that is twisted and turned all throughout the 'waiting space'. We waited for about half an hour in this line filled with people waiting for wedding receptions to start, people in between flights who came there for a snack, tourists like us and locals who just can't get enough. I ordered a Double Dog with Fries (which only cost me a little over $2) with everything on it (mustard, relish, onions and hot tamale peppers.) Chicago doesn't believe in Ketchup. I didn't miss it as much as I initially thought I would. I got my order in a paper bag and took it outside (there was no room to eat inside.) We all sat down and dug in.

A Double Dog is two wieners in one bun. On top of that you get your condiments and on top of that you get your fries! It looks like something from This is Why Your Fat. But I hadn't eaten since 11am, and it was now 8pm. I dug in. And even though it doesn't look like much, it was so tasty! I would definitely say it has earned its title on Rachel Ray's list. That being said, I wouldn't eat it more than once every five years due to the crazy amounts of grease, salt and sugar you consume. For a treat though, it is worth it.

We stayed at Ray's Bucktown Bed and Breakfast. I must say that I will make it a point of staying here again. Bucktown is a little section of Chicago. It has lots of very unique stores and cafes such as The T-shirt Deli, Hot Chocolate, as well as many little clothing boutiques and more. I had the Skylight Room which I loved. The whole house was decorated with odd mugs, jars, books, magazines, furniture and art. The service was wonderful and welcoming.  We thoroughly enjoyed breakfast there every morning. We met Ray on the last day and he was so charming and helpful. He told us 'I'm one of those guys who hated Bed and Breakfasts, so I thought I would be the perfect guy to open one!' He really has created something unique and special. I can't wait to return!

Dinner was needed after the first day. We had been walking around all day (up and down stairs, back and forth through isles, and in and out of booths.) Some of us hadn't eaten lunch and were extremely hungry. We soon found ourselves at Uno's Pizza. It's a very quaint little place full of darkly stained wood and round tables. Uno's is famous for their Deep Dish Pizza. The walls are full of names and dates of people who have sharpie'd their mark there. (We added ours as well.) We found some as old as the early 1970's. Very cool. We were informed that it was 45 minutes to an hour wait for a table of 6. They took our order while we were waiting because the pizzas are made from scratch and take 45 minutes. We ordered a Deluxe and a 4 Cheese Pesto. All I can say is 'wow.' I would now willingly wait over an hour to get a pizza there. Amazingly delicious.

And then it was Day Two at the Convention. We stayed there until 1pm. It gave us enough time to see everything that we had missed the day before. We had lunch at Maggiano's Little Italy. I had the Chopped Salad and a cup of soup. The salad was huge! In it was chopped Iceberg lettuce, crispy prosciutto, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers and a few other things. The place is very classy. They have a grand piano in the front window that has been turned into a table. The music was classic Sinatra and the service was excellent.

After shopping on Michigan Avenue, we ventured over to Lawry's for some Prime Rib Dinner. When you walked into this place it is huge. There are chandeliers, fancy carpet, spiral staircases... so beautiful. The servers are in super formal uniforms, and go by 'Miss' or 'Mr' rather than first names. The tables are round and covered with white linens. On the website you can look up the history and see pictures, but oh man was it delicious. We all split a bottle of wine and watched as the 'Master Carver' wheeled over the meat and asked us what cut we would like and how we like it cooked. I ordered the California Cut done Medium Rare. It did not disappoint!

We then rushed to see The Blue Man Group. If you have not seen them yet, GO! It's hysterical! Do it.

Following the show we went to the Chicago Water Tower Place Signature Lounge. It's on the 96th floor! I tried to take some pictures, but none of them really turned out very well. (I pulled a few from Google Images to give you some visuals.) We had drinks and dessert there. They are open until 12:30am. This is another place I will go out of my way to see again! So beautiful!

I hope your doing well. Let me know what you're up to when you get a chance! I can't wait to hang out again soon.

I love you,

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jamie Oliver With a Twist #1

Dear Sally,

Since I have moved to Newmarket I have started to realize just how much of a blessing this blog is to me. As the days get busier and the work piles higher I am so thankful for the few peaceful moments I have to share with you over the always wonderful topic of food.

It feels like we have been going steady ever since my parents and I moved everything in here a couple of weeks ago. Jesse and I have been so busy each day that I wanted- no needed- a night for just us. For this I turned to Jamie Oliver. When I was in Toronto Melissa bought me his Meals in Minutes cookbook and I have been waiting to use it ever since. I was thinking about pulling a Julie and Julia and trying every single recipe in order from front to back. I can't afford to do one every day but I thought I would work through about one a month. This way the book will last me the rest of my life :)

I make minor adjustments to the recipes depending on my allergies hence the TWIST. So far it has been a hit and I'm looking forward to many more delicious recipes in the future. The following combinations are things that I would never have thought about myself. The blending of spicy and savory, salty with sweet are amazing and definitely passed the test.

I seem to have lost my camera so the pictures were taken on Jesse's Blackberry but soon we will be able to take better pictures.

I'm looking forward to a visit to Peterborough soon! Miss you.


The menu:

Broccoli Orecchiette
Zucchini & Bobboncini Salad
Prosciutto & Melon Salad
(All Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes)

5 ounces Parmesan cheese
1 large head of broccoli
1 (2 ounce) can anchovies in oil
1 heaped tablespoon capers, drained
1 tbsp. chili paste
3 cloves garlic
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 pound dried orecchiette

Grate the parmesan cheese and set aside. Slice all the florets off the stalk of the large head of broccoli. Trim off the stalks of the broccoli and set aside.

Fit the standard blade o the processor. Put the broccoli stalks into the food processor with the anchovies and their oil, and the drained capaers. Blend in the chili paste, garlic and pulse it all into a paste.

Boil water for the pasta. While that is working heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a frying panand spoon in the broccoli paste. Stir, then pick and tear up some thyme leaves, discarding the woody stalks. Pour some water into the pan and add the parmesan cheese. Stir.

Add the pasta to the boiling water with a pinch of salt and follow directions. After five minutes add the broccoli florets to the water and cook. When finished drain with a colander, reserving some of the cooking water and add to the frying pan of paste. Add the parmesan cheese and mix all ingredients well. Just before serving add a drizzle of lemon juice.

Zuccini Salad

3 large sprigs of fresh mint
1 tsp chili sauce
1 lemon
8 ounces baby zucchini, mixed colours
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
olive oil
salt and pepper

Pick the mint leaves over a cutting board. Chop very finely and put into a bowl. Add chili paste. Zest over 1/2 lemon and drizzle about 3 tbsp. olive oil, squeeze 1/2 the lemon. Peel the zucchini into ribbons over the dressing. Crumble the goat cheese onto the salad and season with salt and pepper.

Prosciutto & Melon Salad

a small bunch of fresh basil
1/2 lemon
8 ounces prosciutto
1 cantaloupe
balsamic vinegar

Pick the leaves from the basil, chop finely and place in the bottom of a salad bowl.

Add 2 tbsp. of olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Slice up the prosciutto into thin pieces and add them to the mix. Remove the seeds and skin from the melon and chop into bite-sized pieces. Drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar and toss.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Burgers and Homemade Oreos

Dearest Jess,

It has been a while since I have made a meal for the sake of making a meal. Jason and I were thinking this the other day, so we set aside last night to make dinner together. Since it's now summer (yay!) I picked a burger recipe. Since Jason loves sweets I tried making Oreos.

These Burgers, are very tasty. Jim bit into it and said 'It tastes like a taco!' Which, after biting into mine, I agreed. The aioli was a nice touch and added a flavour that is not generally on a taco, so it brought it into the 'burger arena'. We tried these on the BBQ but they started to fall apart, so we ended up grilling them on the stove top.

Paprika Lamb Burgers with Aioli
450g minced lamb
1 red onion, 1/2 grated, 1/2 sliced
1/2 small bunch parsley, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch dried chilli flakes (optional)
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
4 crusty rolls
1 beef tomato, sliced
Little Gem Lettuce leaves, to serve

1. Put the first six ingredients, except the onion slices, in a bowl with lots of seasoning. Mix together with your hands, then form into four burgers. Mix the mayo with garlic to make aioli. Fry the burgers for 4-5 minutes on each side until cooked through but juicy.
2. Layer teh rolls with lettuce, burgers, onion slices and tomato and a big dollop of aioli.

Oreos! Thanks again to my friend's blog, I stumbled across this recipe. I was very skeptical at first. I think it's because of my (lack of) baking skills. But this was me 'living on the edge' again. Last time it worked out, so I thought this time I might succeed as well.

I did! They were easy and a lot of fun. I used an electric beater for the first time since I was 12 baking with my mom! She used to always tell me to make sure my hair was tied back or else it could get stuck in the beater. This, and a few other lessons all came flooding back as I plugged it in and turned it on. I love my Mom.

But seriously. Make these!

Homemade Oreos

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Set oven to 375.
2. Place flour, cocoa, soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix and then add butter and egg blending until a thick paste forms.
Roll teaspoonfuls into a ball and place on a paper lined baking sheet, pressing down lightly.
Bake 9mins.

3. Meanwhile, make filling. In the mixer, blend butter and shortening. Slowly add sugar, and then vanilla. Whipping until very well mixed.

4. Place a blob between 2 cooled cookies and squish.

You are an amazing woman. I am proud to know you. I hope we can find a time to hang out soon. Maybe another double date?

So Much Love,