Sunday, 29 May 2011

Homemade Energy Bars

Have you ever been hungry between meals and settled for an energy bar?  I do this quite often and my weakness is... Lara Bars!  I am officially addicted to these yummy little bars that are all natural, but cost anywhere between $2 and $3 per bar depending where you buy them.  These energy bars are very tasty and I cannot live without them.  After reading the list of ingredients (only 4-9 depending on which bar), my only thought was that I could easily recreate the taste for much less. 

So, I did some research and found some recipes for energy bars online.  I decided to choose my own ingredients but stick to the suggested ratios.  You can adjust the ingredients as you like:

1/4 cup of any raw nuts or seeds (almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts...)
1/4 cup of dates or prunes
1/4 cup of any dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, blueberries, apple, apricot...)
pinch of cinnamon

If you follow the ratio of fruit to nut, 2:1, you will always get the perfect bar!  My first batch consisted of almonds, prunes and raisins.  I call it the Bri Bar :)

I started with the almonds and the cinnamon.  I ground them finely in my little food processor.

Then, I added the prunes and raisins. 

I mixed it up until it was a big sticky mixture.

I split the mixture and made 2 little mounds on some wax paper.  I folded the wax paper lengthwise and formed the mix into bar shapes.

They look and taste exactly like Lara Bars! 

I keep my Bri Bars in the fridge in an airtight container to keep them fresh. I take one to work with me everyday.  They are way better than Lara Bars because I made them myself with fresh ingredients, in a clean kitchen and they are so affordable.  I have since made a cranberry bar  and I plan to make a peanut butter bar flavour next.  You can experiment with your own favourite dried fruits and nuts and create your own energy bars - enjoy!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Breakfast For Lunch at Sunset Grill

When I was a kid, my mother sometimes made breakfast food for lunch or dinner.  I loved the bizarre feeling of having waffles and cereal in the evening!  That's probably why I am attracted to restaurants that feature an "all day breakfast" menu.  Sunset Grill offers the best of both worlds by combining their breakfast menu with their other meal options such as hamburgers, sandwiches and salads.

I could spend hours reading the menu at Sunset Grill; every dish sounds mouthwatering delicious!  It took some time to decide, but I started with a coffee (which was like water - yuk) and settled on the "Sunset Super" which comes with three eggs, your choice of bacon or sausages, two fluffy pancakes and home fries.  I was surprised by the amount of food we got for only about $10 a plate.  I chose to have my eggs over easy with sausage.  

My mom chose her eggs scrambled with bacon :)

My sister ordered the Sausages & Three Eggs which is considered a Sunset Grill Favourite.  It is also served with home fries and toast.

My jaw dropped when our super pancakes were brought to the table.  These are the fluffiest pancakes I have ever seen - about 3/4 of an inch think!  The Sunset Super comes with 2 large pancakes and I wish I had a picture of them... I was too busy buttering them and pouring syrup on em'!  They were total pancake perfection.

Besides the weak coffee, Sunset Grill is amazing.  I like the diner-like atmosphere and the servers are very friendly.  Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and now I can have it the way I like it anytime of the day!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Girl's Night Out @ Maki Sushi

My friends and I make an effort to meet at Maki Sushi at least once a month and I am always really excited to go.  This place has become "our spot" because it's closeby and we love the all you can eat menu.  Whenever we have reservations, I cannot help thinking about it all day long and telling everyone I know that I am going to Maki Sushi.  For $23 and over 100 items to choose from, it's the best value you can find for good Japanese food.

We usually order our favourite items in combination with some new things to try outTonight, we began with green salads, vegetable fried udon noodles and spring rolls.  Edemame, which are lightly boiled and salted soy beans are also a nice starter, although not a preference of mine...

If you like sushi and would like some suggestions, our favourite rolls to order are the green dragon roll (pictured above left - cucumber, avocado and shrimp), shrimp tempura roll (above right) and rainbow roll (above centre - cucumber, avocado, crab, salmon and tuna).  Some other fantastic rolls are the spicy crispy roll, philadelphia roll and the california roll (pictured below with another rainbow roll)! 

Be careful to save room for desert! Maki Sushi offers fried bananas, pumpkin cake and red bean cake.  They also have vanilla, mango and green tea ice cream.  I reccomend the vanilla ice cream with the pumpkin cake :)

The food here truly makes up for the forgetful waitstaff.  They are very good at explaining the items on the menu, but you may need to remind the server of items that you ordered.  This can become annoying, but does not really bother us too much.  Most times we are thankful because we often order too much food for us to finish.  Overall, this place is great and I highly reccomend it to sushi lovers!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Making Gnocchi

Gnocchi are soft pasta/dumplings made from only flour and potato.  Most recipes out there will call for an egg or two, but true Italian gnocchi originally have no eggs.  These gnocchi were made with the help of my grandmother. I used her suggestions and techniques to make the perfect pot of gnocchi with fresh homemade tomato sauce.
As per Nonna, Yukon Gold potatoes are the best for making gnocchi because they have the least moisture.  I have also used Russet potatoes, which are easy to find in Ontario, and they came out just as good!  You should boil at least 1 medium sized potato per person.  Once the potatoes are boiled and strained, peel their skin off using your hands while they are still warm - try not to burn yourself :)

Mash the potatoes while they are still warm using a potato masher; even one little lump will ruin your dough!  Add flour, 1 cup at a time and knead into a dough.  If you do not add enough flour, your gnocchi will dissolve in the pot when you are boiling them, so make sure the dough is still soft, but not sticky.  If you add too much flour, your gnocchi will be hard and heavy - so just be careful!

Next, roll the dough out into long snake-like pieces and cut them up into nickel sized squares.  Poke your finger into each gnocchi and drag it a little to create an impression in the dough.  Lie them out on a table cloth sprinkled with flour and sprinkle more on as needed so the gnocchi do not stick together.

As per Nonna, you should either cook them or freeze them within 2 hours for the best tasting pasta! 

 Here's the finished product... yummmm!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

First Time Korean BBQ at Kazan

I just got back from Kazan Korean BBQ.  I have never tired Korean food before, so I was really anxious to try it.

We ordered the BBQ Course B which is perfect for 4-5 people.  We were five people and there was enough food for everyone.  We were given a plate of seafood, a plate of beef, and a plate with bacon and chicken.  To start, we were given a nice pot of warm spicy soup while we grilled the seafood.  The seafood is unseasoned, so I would suggest using the dipping sauce provided.

We were also given rice and all sorts of sides like grilled eggplant, pickled cabbage, cooked spinach and sliced radish.  At first, I wasn't particularly interested in trying any of the sides, but after tasting, I really liked them!  The eggplant was my favourite and we asked the waitress to bring more to our table.  As for the meats, the beef was a little chewy, but was still very tasty dipped in the sauces.  The bacon and the chicken; both a ten out of ten!  Some people like to sandwich their beef and bacon between two pieces of lettuce before eating.  A plate stacked with freshly washed crisp lettuce was provided for this purpose.  I would have liked to make a salad instead :)

Overall, I would recommend this restaurant to someone who enjoys trying new food or to anyone who loves Korean BBQ.