Thursday, February 22, 2018

Dixonlicious 2018 - feeds you and so many others

Dixonlicious  event returns for it's 4th year.  They work with community members at every life stage to achieve their vision of a city where everyone thrives, their mission is to create lasting solutions to end poverty, social injustices and isolation in Toronto – and their goal is to provide 25,000 meals to those in need.  This year Dixonlicious will be hosted by Farah Nasser, from Global News Toronto.  
Dixonlicious is an event that raises funds for Dixon Hall a non-profit agency.

All proceeds from the event benefit their food programs in the downtown east and Regent Park which are just as diverse as the community members they serve.  

Services provided include Meals on Wheels, snacks for after school initiatives for Regent Park youth, meals for our March Break and summer camps, meals for our two homeless shelters, and Community Meal programs for community members facing food security issues, including people living with HIV/AIDs
Tickets are available here - use offer code GIVEBACK at check out for a 15% discount

You can also look on the event page of our website to get a list of the restaurant and beverage partner:

 Silent auction items are available here:

I have attended Dixonlicious a couple of times and these are some of the photos of some of the dishes from last years event.  It's a fun event in a great location at the Daniels Spectrum an easy to get to location with underground parking even.  It's always great to attend an event with great food and at the end of the night you will have helped so many people just by attending and having fun and eating great food and maybe bidding on some fantastic items.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Casting Call for Great Bakers in Canada

Are you a serious Bakeaholic?  

Do you dream about baked goods and spend all of your free time in the kitchen whipping up mouth watering treats to share with friends and family?

Are you obsessed with the Baking Competitions on TV?
Are you looking for a big break in your life and a challenge?

Well the good news is there is an opportunity for you in Canada.
The Great Canadian Baking Show which originated in the UK is now casting for Season 2 and you can apply now by clicking the link below.

Click Here to apply:  Great Canadian Baking Show Casting  

I wish I had the talent the time and the energy to apply but I hope that you do and if you do and you get on the show please let me know so that I can watch and cheer you on.

Good Luck and even if you don't apply I would recommend watching the show because it's a lot of fun and you learn a lot about different baking techniques that you can use in your kitchen to impress your friends and family.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Easy Valentine's Day food and tips.

Today I am wearing my shirt with hearts on it because it's Valentine's Day.  Even though I am not celebrating this day with my soul mate I will be celebrating with my colleagues and will be having lunch with friends.  But for those that are stressed out about trying to find the perfect gift and to pick the best overpriced fancy restaurant or to cook a fancy meal at home I will give you a few tips.  I am far from the Love expert but I do know that food is love and it makes people happy so that's a start.

Since I am on the Healthy Workplace Committee at work, yes it's a real thing.  We try and engage and build community at the office for a happier, healthier staff.  I thought it might be nice instead of doing a big event that might not be comfortable and we already did a documentary screening this week so I thought it might be nice to just leave a chocolate heart and a card on everyone's desks from the committee, one of my committee teammates helped me stick the chocolates onto the little cards and we wondered around the office seeing who was here.  Our office is sort of split on 2 sides so we never seem to venture over to the other sides so I thought this was a good idea and I got a Lindt chocolate from a coworker in return so bonus.

I will be meeting up with 2 friends for lunch today and will be bringing them a surprise that is somewhere on this post.   

I really wanted to try and do a complete meal on the weekend but spent so much time cleaning up that I ran out of energy so hence the blog post is about trying to do some things that are easy and can be done in advance and saving your energy to spend time with the ones you love.

1.  Make things that are simple but have a big impact flavour wise and presentation wise.

Artichokes are one of those things that most people don't think about eating but I grew up eating them.  My friends thought it was very different.  They seem intimidating but they aren't.  All you have to do is trim the stem, you can be fancy and trim the outside bits of the stem and then cut the tops off because they have sharp points.   Steam them for about 15-20 minutes.  You will know if they are cooked if the leaves are easy to pull out from the middle.  

I make a simple vinaigrette dipping sauce but you can use all kinds of dipping sauces,  store bought or your own sauce.   
Mine usually has: Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar or other vinegars, mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and a couple of drops of hot sauce.  Sometimes it varies but this is the gist of it.  You can also add a pinch of sugar if you want to balance it out a bit.

Serve it on a nice plate and you just pull the leaves one at a time and dip the ends into the sauce.  When you get down to most of the leaves gone you separate the bottom from the leaves and remove the choke, the fuzzy stuff inside and you can dip the ends of the leaves and the heart of the artichoke.  See there is a love connection.  Artichokes have a heart.

My next suggestion is Oysters.  I wasn't an oyster lover before but once you have had some great oysters you become hooked.  My favourites are usually east coast oysters.  They are a bit sweeter.
You can get Oysters shucked and packaged on ice at your local Whole foods even.  That's what I did here.   You can set up a whole bunch of toppings or you can make a custom Minionette sauce,  a vinegar and shallot sauce and have cut up lemons and things like horseradish and hot sauce to top it.
There isn't anything to do except to make sure they are kept on ice and have your condiments so it's easy and impressive and I have heard it's good for men too.


Since I didn't have time to cook a meal for this post I will give you my go to easy dish that is always my favourite thing.  That is Gnocchi.  It's the fastest thing to cook.  You can either make some from scratch before hand or you can easily get a package of frozen gnocchi that you just boil and as soon as they float to the top they are done.  My favourite way to have it is with a simple tomato sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese but you can also saute them in a sage and butter sauce that would also be quick to make.  It's fast and really satisfying and good for vegetarians and even vegans if you leave out the cheese but that's the best part for me.


2.  Think outside the box and make it special.

My mom used to fry wonton wrappers and add confectioners' sugar on them and bring them to friends.  I took a bit of a spin and used a cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes from the wonton dough and after frying them I added a mixture of the powdered sugar and cinnamon and then using a strainer I sprinkled it on the freshly made heart shaped wontons.  They are super simple and addictive.  Think of sweet chips and you get the idea.  You can make them the day before and store them in an airtight container.  They will last for a few days easily.

3.  Step it up a notch.
Take a simple recipe but try and put it together in a different way.   I made my usual brownie recipe and baked it in dollar store heart shaped tin individual containers.  On a nice plate add the brownie and then you can use one of your heart shaped wontons and I added my current addiction of some Cherry Garcia Ben and Jerry's Ice cream and then I did a brush of melted chocolate on the plate and then added powdered sugar on top and I had the little gummy lips that I put on top for color.  I didn't have any cherries or strawberries but they would have been a nice touch of color.  I am still working on my plating skills but if I can do it so can you.

Some other things you can do that will make all the difference in making someone's day.

  • Take someone out to the restaurant they have been wanting to go to and then make this dessert at home.
  • Think of thoughtful gifts like hiring a personal chef or a cleaning service so that your loved one can be pampered.
  • Don't give someone a spa gift unless they love to go to the spa.  Some people don't like it so check first.
  • Chocolates and flowers are predictable but they are nice but some people don't really care about that so see how they feel about those types of things.
  • Jewellery is becoming less of a thing because of the cost of living going up so people are trying to do experiences instead of stuff these days.
  • Experiences are great.  Think about a cooking class, or going to a VIP night of dinner and a movie.  Go to a special event or do something different.
  • You can make a big impression even with little things.  If the person needs something pick it up for them.  Get them a box of their favourite teas or bring them their favourite coffee.
Whatever you do put some thought into it and consider the person and try and keep it simple so that you have the time and energy to spend time with them instead of running around and getting stressed out.  Share your time and your love.  The stuff is nice but it's not about the stuff it's about the thought.