Friday, November 30, 2012

Loblaws on Carlton -1 yr Anniversary Big week

Loblaws on Carlton St. in the Old Maple Leaf Gardens building in Toronto, celebrate their 1 Year Anniversary today and they have events to celebrate it all week.  

They kicked off their 1st year anniversary by having people line up at 7am to get 1 of 400 gift cards.   I didn't know about it until just before 7 and I was too lazy to haul my butt down there that early so I didn't get there until later on in the morning.   I decided to check it out because they are giving out ballots to win gift cards and they have all kinds of challenges going on all day.   I tried to get in on the pizza making challenge but there were a lot of people so I didn't get picket to try my hand at making a tasty pizza.    I didn't stick around to see who did win it though but I am sure the pizza was delicious.

I was thinking that every grocery store these days has a certain personality or vibe and they try to customize their environment and food to cater to certain demographics.   Loblaws demographic is that of a foodie or food adventurer,  like me, someone that likes to see new things at their grocery stores and takes into account that we live in a city of diversity and they strive to try and have products from all over the world and also have lots of unusual or convenient entertaining foods.   Loblaws is the Global superstore of food.

Yesterday I went to Sobey's because I got a $25 gift card when I went to see Jamie Oliver at the Marilyn Dennis show.  Sobey's isn't my main grocery store because there isn't one in my neighbourhood so I had to go to the one at Leaside and pick up some things to redeem my card.   Even though I wasn't anywhere near my neighbourhood I still ran into a friend of mine who wasn't in his neighbourhood either.   Funny how timing in life works.   Anyway... like usual I didn't just spend $25 dollars worth of food and I did a little tour of the store to see what they had that was different than what other stores carry.   Although I didn't buy anything unusual I did find it entertaining to see some things I have never seen before and what they focus on in their store.  They had a large seafood section and a really big meat section.  It seemed to me they focus on fresh products versus packaged products.   But their Organic section can't compete with Loblaws  or even Metro or the Mac daddy of Organic Whole Foods.     I like to see grocery stores have a large choice of Organics because some things are better Organic and somethings you can get away with without spending the extra money.   By following the Environmental Working Groups list of the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen you can find out which ones to choose.

Sometimes Organic just tastes better,  sometimes it's a crap shoot because Mother nature controls what the end product turns out to be like.   I prefer to buy things like Apples Organic because they are really high on the pesticide list.  The less toxins I shove into my body the better.   Although I am not perfect and eat way too many things that aren't good for me I do feel like it all balances out when I can choose more better things than not.

Back to the Loblaws...  the Carlton Location is a massive store with a huge Cheese Wall, a Sushi Bar, a Coffee/Tea Bar, a large Fresh take out food kind of almost buffet style counter.   They also have a huge section of desserts with a huge counter of cupcakes and macarons.   They must love the carbs in that store because the Bread section is also massive with lots of Ace Bakery gourmet selections.

They were making fresh Mozzarella while I was there.   They have all kinds of exotic fruits and vegetables from around the world.     Pretty much anything you need to cook a great meal is in this store.   From Appetizer to Dessert.

I think this is going to be the trend in grocery stores of the future.   Bigger, Better and full of everything you can think of.

This is only the second or 3rd time I have been to this location but what I like about it is that they are trying to do big events in the store.  They had the Cake Boss Buddy Velastro in the store a couple of weeks ago and with this Anniversary they will have stuff going on all day and all week in the store.   They have a full kitchen and have cooking classes in the store.   Pretty much a one stop shop for Foodies.   I just wish I lived in the neighbourhood and could make it my regular store.   Although I bet I would be buying way too much food if it was nearby.

I would suggest that if you always go to the same grocery store break out of your grocery shopping box and go out of your way to a totally different store and area and do some food exploring and see what you can find that might interest you to make something different for a change.   Pretend you are going to another country and being a tourist in your own city.  Explore your city for new Ethnic foods and plan a theme night with friends and family.    Have some fun with your food.    

Food is Fuel but it can be Fun too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

When is it worth getting take-out dinner?

When is it worth getting take out food?  

When it's faster than cooking a Chicken.  
Or when you have to do 3 things at once.

Sometimes it's just quicker, easier, cheaper and a whole lot more efficient to order take out.   Not in every instance but today it just seemed a lot more worth it to hit "click click wait for my dinner".   I decided to order the SWISS CHALET Festive Special for dinner today because I was trying to figure out how to get some stuff done while still figuring out what I wanted to eat for dinner.

I wanted to go get Swiss Chalet for dinner yesterday but got distracted by the previous post of the case of the Exploding Pop Bottle.   So I have been craving the Festive Special for the past couple of days.  I love to get their Festive Special at least once every season.  I don't have big holiday meals so I don't get the works of stuffing, etc. and to make it all for just me is totally not worth the effort.

Reasons when it's worth getting take out:

1.  When you can get it a whole lot faster than if you made it yourself.  Saving time grocery shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning up... which includes taking out the garbage and there's always garbage.

2.  When you are in the middle of doing something else and you are starving and can't wait to make something for yourself.

3.  When you are only one person and it would cost you triple the amount to go and get the ingredients to make what you ordered.

Today's example:

I was doing some serious Multi-tasking today.  I had a couple of loads of laundry going in the laundry room in my building while I was trying to do an online test to figure out what courses I should look into for a better career fit and then replying to emails from a friend overseas and talking to another friend while he was on his way out of town.  After I did all that I did a quick vacuum around the apartment and checked the rest of my social media.   It took me a whole 5 minutes online to click and order my Swiss Chalet dinner and it arrived in less than 40 minutes.   It would have taken me a whole lot longer just to cook the equivalent size piece of chicken.   Forget about even adding the stuffing.   I also ordered perogies instead of fries or potatoes.   It would have taken me 10 minutes just to boil the water to cook frozen perogies, although I wouldn't recommend getting the perogies as they are better made at home the way you like it.   But I also added a side salad as my side and I will have that for lunch tomorrow saving me having to figure out what to have for lunch tomorrow.   Win Win.

Order once eat twice.  Little effort and I didn't have to spend an hour at the grocery store and an hour cooking and an hour cleaning up and wasting a whole lot of extra food.

I would say the best time to order take out is when you want a lot of chinese food with different ingredients that would cost you too much to go out and buy individually and when the cooking process would take you longer to make yourself.

Not to say that you shouldn't cook at home because sometimes it is worth it.  My homemade roasted chicken blows Swiss Chalet chicken away in taste and moistness.   But during the week when you have limited time you have to decide what's more worth your time.... cooking or getting things done in a limited timeline.

The limited timeline won out today.   Dinner is done and no dishes in the sink.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Exploding Coke Bottle in my Fridge

I heard a Pop in my kitchen this afternoon and went to look around but didn't see anything out of place and because I live in an apartment building I always hear different noises from around the building so since I didn't see anything I just ignored it.

Around dinner time I was trying to decide between getting take out food and then I thought I should make the leftovers in the fridge and I had just picked up a few groceries so I had some fresh food in the fridge.   I went to dig out my container of Braised Short Ribs that I made the other day and had to pull a few things out of the way to get to it.  Then I noticed that there was some ice on top of the container so I thought that maybe something had frozen and dropped onto it.   I pulled the container out of the fridge and immediately notices some molasses coloured liquid spilled around the container.

The thing is that my fridge has 2 wire shelves so anything that spills will drip down to the bottom of the fridge.

Well guess what... I now had an unplanned cleanup that I now had to do in my fridge all because of 1 tiny little EXPLODING BOTTLE OF DIET COKE.    And the thing about that little bottle of coke is that I didn't even buy it.   It was a bottle that was in my TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) Swag bag that I got for Volunteering in September.   I never buy bottles of Coke but once in a while I will buy cans or a big plastic bottle if I have a party.   I kept these 2 little bottles of Coke in the fridge in case some of my friends came over and wanted a drink.  A few of them drink Diet Coke but I usually just drink water or tea when I am at home.

So I had to take everything out of the fridge and give the whole fridge a wipe down and make sure there weren't any little shards of glass left anywhere.

I had to rethink the way I put things back into the fridge and made sure anything that was ok to be frozen went to the back of the fridge this time where it is obviously the coldest.

The one good thing is that most of the things in my fridge were in sealed containers so I didn't lose any food except the stuff I ended up pulling out like wilted green onions and expired Kim Chi, who knew Kim Chi went bad, I thought it was fermented to last forever, guess not.

I also pulled out some expired other free drinks like coconut water and almond milk...   here's the lesson... Getting Free stuff isn't always a good thing.    I also pulled out a couple of frozen cans of Soda water and coconut water.   I don't drink these things so I guess it was time to clean the fridge of items I don't use.

Well now I am starving since it's now at least an hour later and I don't even want to eat the leftovers.   Think I will play it safe and do take out tonight.

I started off today cleaning the floor in the kitchen and thought I was getting ahead.   I didn't want to cook today because I didn't want to mess up the kitchen and spend the whole day cleaning up.    Well guess Murphy had other plans....

But I suppose the good thing is I now know exactly what's in my fridge and know that nothing is expired and everything has been re organized and hopefully will not be wasted for a while.

It seems to me that over the past few weeks I have realized that having less in my fridge will actually save me money.   Financial advisors say to cook at home but I think I have wasted more money throwing out spoiled food than I have eating out.    #SinglePersonProblems.

And the other point to this whole thing I think was that it made me think... What's Really in these bottles of Coke?   The way it exploded and froze into some solid froth like substance made me wonder what happens when it's in your stomach...   HMMMM... something to think about.  

And that's why I drink water now.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Taters and Cream fast food at home

One of my favourite Fast Foods is Lick's Taters n Cream which I have been known to drive all the way down to the Beaches to satisfy a craving of it.   One day recently I thought I don't have to drive to Lick's to get it I can make it at home myself.  In an attempt to try and make more things at home and to save money and travel time and expenses I whipped up a batch of my own Taters and Cream.

Instead of cutting the potatoes into french fry strips I cut them into equal sized cubes making it easy to cook in a skillet.   I fried the potatoes in a skillet using the bacon fat that was left after cooking the bacon.  You add tons of extra flavour into the potato cubes that way and it fries up really crispy.   Cook the potatoes until golden brown and crispy on the outside and still a bit soft on the inside.  Make sure you don't cook it on high heat but more towards medium so that they get a chance to cook inside.

Drain the potatoes on paper towel when cooked and then place the potatoes on a plate or I like to put it in a bowl so that it can mound on top.

Add the Shredded cheese while the potatoes are still hot so that the cheese can melt a bit.
Then add the Sour Cream, Bacon and Sliced Green Onions.   I skipped adding the salt since I cooked the potatoes in Bacon Fat and there is plenty of salt in the cheese and bacon.
Add Pepper to taste and if you like it spicy you could even add chili flakes or Siracha or hot pepper sauce if you like.

That's it...   No waiting in lines,  no driving, parking, gas expenses food packaging waste.     All you need are a few good ingredients and about a half an hour of your time.   It's just as good as the take out version if not better because you know it's fresh and you know exactly how it's been made.

It may not be low cal but it is the kind of thing that hits that comfort food zone and really satisfies you.   Making it at home you will know that you are using fresh oil, you can use organic products if you like as well and you can control exactly how much and what you add to it.

You can also experiment with the stuff you put on top.  You could add things like diced tomatoes or cilantro or parsley... go nuts if you like.. break all the rules...   

Just enjoy the Fast Food at Home and feel like you can make it yourself.

Conquering Bread Baking

Bread and Water are the one things that are Universal all over the World.  Everyone eats some version of Bread and needs water to survive at minimum.   So why did most of the people in the World stop making it at home and relying on Commercial Bakeries?  My mother never knew how to make Bread but she did know how to bake a cake which is just a sweet bread without yeast basically.

I have been cooking since I was about 12 but I never learned how to bake bread and on my few attempts I produced results but never felt like I mastered it.   Baking is an art and also Science.  You have to get all the elements right to produce a decent loaf of bread.

I attempted 2 recipes a couple of weeks ago and one was a total failure but I managed to rescue it somehow and the other was ok.   After that attempt I went to see Chef Michael Smith at George Brown College and he talked about Baking Bread and said that there was a no knead method that seems to becoming a trend and that he makes this recipe a few times a week and says he doesn't buy commercial bread anymore.  These photos are of my attempt a few weeks ago.  Once recipe said to mix the yeast and water seperatley but I didn't like this method and had to fix it.

The reason I have been interested in baking bread at home is because one day I thought about what it took to have bread stay soft and mould free for weeks and one day I read the ingredients and realized that there were only a small amount of actual real natural ingredients but when you make bread at home all you do is add Flour, salt, yeast and water.   That's all you really need but you can always add different flours and other ingredients for flavour.

Baking bread at home isn't a quick thing unless you use a bread machine but in my attempt to make Chef Smith's no knead recipe I found that you can make a decent loaf of bread with a few ingredients and some time.

Here's the recipe I used:

3 cups of All purpose Flour
1/4 tsp Active Yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 5/8 cup of Warm Water.


Whisk the Flour, Yeast and salt together in a large bowl until everything is distributed through the flour.
Add the warm water and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.

That was it for the recipe that I had but I found that it was very sticky so I added more flour until it came together a bit better.   I would recommend experimenting with the flour amount.

Also I would recommend adding a bit of olive oil and then covering with plastic wrap to prevent a crust forming and then adding a tea towel over it.   Or I think you could just add a damp tea towel to keep it from drying out on top.   It didn't recommend that but when I did it a crust formed on top and this is important on the first rise because when you get to the second rise the crust gets mixed into the middle.

I mixed the mixture on saturday morning and then early on sunday morning I punched it down and let it rise another couple of hours.   I added a bit more flour and then formed it into a ball and placed it on a baking sheet and let it rise again before baking it to make sure it rose as much as possible to get a light bread.   I would also recommend adding an egg wash and you can also add something like sesame seeds on top for some extra flavour.

You basically need about 12-18 hours of first rise and then 2-3 for the second rise.

I baked it at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes I think.   It recommended 45 minutes but I found it cooked way faster than that.   Always watch you first batch and don't rely on the recommended times because every oven works a bit differently.  Cook it until it's golden brown and there is a hard crust and it's hallow inside when tapped.    Let it rest a bit before cutting it.

I wasn't sure it was going to work.  I didn't know if it was going to be uncooked inside but it totally worked.

My conclusion:  You Can Bake Bread at Home and save money and skip the preservatives.   Just plan your bread in advance and have a bit of patience.

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh baked bread in the house and the taste of bread right out of the oven still warm with butter slathered on top.

Friday, November 16, 2012

No More Twinkies, Ho Ho's or Cookies

Nabisco Oreo's
I find it incredibly sad that companies like Hostess and Nabisco are closing after so many years producing things like Twinkies, HoHo's, Cookies and other treats.   So many kids grew up being all happy when they would get one of these treats.   People have counted on these jobs to feed their families literally for many years and now they have no where to go.   I doubt that the obesity problem will go away with these plants being closed as people will just find other things to eat that isn't good for them.   I would have like to see these plants modify their productions to produce healthier products that still satisfy people's sweet tooth.   A lot of these companies and products were part of the North American culture.  Are we going to lose our North American identity as we ship everything manufactured overseas?    I probably won't miss never having twinkies as they were never part of my diet but I still feel sad about the loss of so many jobs that were career jobs for so many people.

Things will always change but I would hope that the demise of these manufacturing plants doesn't just go away and nothing is put in their places.  I hope that something new and better arises from all of these losses that have occurred over the past few years and we move into growing better manufacturing jobs and opportunities.


Friday, November 16, 2012 at 7:00AM
Irving, TX – November 16, 2012 – Hostess Brands Inc. today announced that it is winding down operations and has filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking permission to close its business and sell its assets, including its iconic brands and facilities. Bakery operations have been suspended at all plants. Delivery of products will continue and Hostess Brands retail stores will remain open for several days in order to sell already-baked products.
The Board of Directors authorized the wind down of Hostess Brands to preserve and maximize the value of the estate after one of the Company’s largest unions, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), initiated a nationwide strike that crippled the Company’s ability to produce and deliver products at multiple facilities.
On Nov. 12, Hostess Brands permanently closed three plants as a result of the work stoppage. On Nov. 14, the Company announced it would be forced to liquidate if sufficient employees did not return to work to restore normal operations by 5 p.m., EST p.m., Nov. 15. The Company determined on the night of Nov. 15 that an insufficient number of employees had returned to work to enable the restoration of normal operations.
The BCTGM in September rejected a last, best and final offer from Hostess Brands designed to lower costs so that the Company could attract new financing and emerge from Chapter 11. Hostess Brands then received Court authority on Oct. 3 to unilaterally impose changes to the BCTGM’s collective bargaining agreements.
Hostess Brands is unprofitable under its current cost structure, much of which is determined by union wages and pension costs. The offer to the BCTGM included wage, benefit and work rule concessions but also gave Hostess Brands’ 12 unions a 25 percent ownership stake in the company, representation on its Board of Directors and $100 million in reorganized Hostess Brands’ debt.
“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” said Gregory F. Rayburn, chief executive officer. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”
In addition to dozens of baking and distribution facilities around the country, Hostess Brands will sell its popular brands, including Hostess®, Drakes® and Dolly Madison®, which make iconic cake products such as Twinkies®, CupCakes, Ding Dongs®, Ho Ho’s®, Sno Balls® and Donettes®. Bread brands to be sold include Wonder®, Nature’s Pride ®, Merita®, Home Pride®, Butternut®, and Beefsteak®, among others.
The wind down means the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores throughout the United States.
The Company said its debtor-in-possession lenders have agreed to allow the Company to continue to have access to the $75 million financing facility put in place at the start of the bankruptcy cases to fund the sale and wind down process, subject to U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval.
The Company’s motion asks the Court for authority to continue to pay employees whose services are required during the wind-down period.
For employees whose jobs will be eliminated, additional information can be found . The website also contains information for customers and vendors. Most employees who lose their jobs should be eligible for government-provided unemployment benefits.


Mondelez to close Toronto bakery next year, 550 jobs hit

Thu Nov 1, 2012 4:54pm EDT

TORONTO (Reuters) - Mondelez International Inc's Canadian division said on Thursday it plans to shut down a Toronto bakery in the third quarter of 2013.

The facility, which has produced cookies and crackers since 1948, employs about 550 people. The company said some production will shift to facilities in Toronto and Montreal.

Mondelez is the snack business that remained after then-Kraft Foods Inc spun its North American grocery business off into Kraft Foods Group Inc in October.

Mondelez, which sells Trident gum, Oreo cookies and Cadbury chocolates, derives 44 percent of its revenue from developing countries, including Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Mondelez shares closed 0.9 percent higher at $26.80 on Thursday on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Peter Galloway)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Food Share Share's their New Cookbook

I have known about the Food Share Organization for a while now but haven't had an opportunity to attend an event or participate until today.  They are a great local community organization in Toronto providing healthy foods to students and people that need healthy food.  They have many different initiatives and events that they run throughout the year and they do great things to promote heathy food.

The event that I attended was their launch of their First ever Cookbook which was written by Adrienne De Francesco and noted food writer Marion Kane.  It's called SHARE.   

The cookbook's title is appropriate with the recipes being shared by Food Share staff, volunteers and people connected to the organization.

They had samples of some of the food from the cookbook at the event and i got to try a few of the treats.

One of the most popular things was the Potato Latke's which they shared the secret to was in adding whipped egg whites.  I will try this recipe the next time I am craving some potato latkes.   They were delicious and really light and flavourful with the perfect balance of potato and onion and not greasy at all.  I remember my aunts latkes were like lumps of lead and oil slime.  A far cry from these latkes.

Some of the other things I sampled were Bannock which was the first time I have ever tried it.  I have heard about it for a while but haven't had the opportunity to try it.   It was a nice light almost cake like bread.

There was also a Moroccan carrot salad which was super healthy but not overly spiced.
There was also chilli stuffed flauta  a moroccan pasta and rice dish and stuffed zucchini.

It was a lovely event with a nice mix of people and just enough to fill their warehouse space which is used to pack community food boxes which were stacked around the warehouse.
The cookbook seems very culturally diverse from the quick look through that I did when I picked up a copy and I think there are going to be a few recipes that I may attempt for the first time like the Bannock recipe and the Flauta's would make a perfect party appetizer so you never know what recipes might pop up on my blog in the future.

If you get a chance to pick up a copy of Share I would recommend it for the beautiful full glossy pages and outstanding photography in the book and the great snapshot of recipes from a diverse community in Toronto.  And the bonus is that the money from the book will support Food Share initiatives so it's a win win when it comes to buying a cookbook.
I hope to be able to attend other Food Share events in the future.   I always like to support local food initiatives that make a difference to people that need a little help.
Fore more info check out Food Share's Website

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Shortcut Chicken Pot Pie

Do you ever buy one of those ready made supermarket chickens that smell so good and are ready to eat as soon as you get home?  But then you are the only one around and have only eaten one portion of the chicken and don't know what to do with the rest of it?

Well here's an idea of what to do with the whole thing:   

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

You have eaten your one piece of chicken and don't have enough room to fit the whole plastic container of leftover chicken in your fridge?  Ok so once you let the chicken cool down a bit then it's time to strip it apart.   Get ready to get your hands dirty.

1. Take the wings off
2. Take the legs off
3. Take whatever leftover breast meat you have left on the chicken off
4. Seperate the backbone from the breastbone.
5. Take all the useable meat off the bones and shred into little pieces, you can cut it if you like but I just ripped it up with my hands.

Now you should have a 1 pile of chicken meat and another pile of bones.

Next:  (Optional)  You can always skip the whole chicken and just use a box of chicken stock, but this way tastes way better)

1. Take the chicken bones and dump them into a large stock pot and fill the pot until it is about 2 or 3 inches from the top.  

2.  Add 1 whole cleaned carrot.

3.  Add 1 whole onion quartered

4.  Add 1 whole celery stalk

5.  Add a Bay leaf

Bring the whole thing up to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top.
Cook until the carrot, celery and onion are completely soft.
Then Discard all the bones and the vegetables if you like.   You could keep the carrots if you like but they won't have as much flavour since it's all in the pot with the broth now.

Once you have removed all the bones and vegetables you can add other seasonings.   I would suggest adding the seasonings now since the chicken was probably seasoned and since it was a store bought one they usually have a lot of sodium.   Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Add a teaspoon of thyme
7. Add some dried or fresh chopped parsley

You can also add some chili flakes if you want to kick up the heat and maybe use it for some other spicy dishes.

Let the broth cook until the flavours reduce and blend to taste.  I would say another 20 minutes.

So now you have chicken soup stock.

Moving on.

In another large pot or large saute pan add the following:

1.  2 Tablespoons of oil/butter/lard or any combination of these.
2.  Add either a cup of pearl onions or a half a cup of chopped onions to the pan.  Cook until translucent.
3.  Add one celery stalk cut up to the pan and saute for a couple of minutes until tender.
4.  Add 2 or 3 cloves of chopped garlic depending on the size and how garlicky you like it.
5.  Add a couple of leaves of chopped fresh sage or a teaspoon of dried sage and a teaspoon of thyme.
6.  Add about a cup of frozen peas and carrots ( this cuts down on the chopping time and is just as healthy)   Cook until the peas have separated from the carrots.
7.  Add a heaping tablespoon of flour and mix the whole mixture.
8.  Add a half a cup to a cup of the chicken broth until it's a thick liquid consistency
9.  Add another half a cup to a cup of milk until it's like a soup consistency.
10.  Raise the heat and cook until the mixture thickens.  You are making a white sauce but with the vegetables in it already.
11.   Once the mixture has almost thickened add the cut up chicken and mix the whole thing until all the chicken is coated.  If it's thick you can add some more chicken stock.  Make sure the chicken stock is warm though or it will make the whole thing turn into a lump.

12.  Let the mixture cool down once it's all incorporated.

Next:  Pie shell

Here's the other cheat way to do this.   Frozen pie crusts.   I bought a box of frozen pie crusts from Costco and just popped out 2 of the crusts and let them thaw for about 15 minutes and then filled the bottom one with the cooled chicken filling.   Water the edges of the bottom crust and then add the top crust and pinch the sides.   make sure you add a steam hole in the middle of the top of the pie crust to make sure it doesn't ooze out.

That's it...  then cook the whole thing in a 350-375 degree oven depending on the pie crust instructions. Cook until golden brown on the top.  It should take about 40 minutes or so.


1. Frozen ready made pie crust
2. Frozen peas and carrots
3. Pre made chicken stock
4. Store bought cooked chicken
5. You can also be even quicker buy getting the already chopped onions and celery.
6.  And if you are really lazy or cooking challenged you could probably even use a cream of celery soup as the creamy mixture.   Although I wouldn't recommend doing it this way.  It's not that hard to make a white sauce.   Equal parts fat to flour and then a cup or 2 of liquid like chicken stock or milk.

All I can say is that if you make it at home instead of buying the pre made chicken pot pies you can control the things you like in it.  If you don't like celery skip it, but all these things really give it that comfort food flavour.   For me it was about reducing the amount of sodium and adding the seasonings the way I like it.   I find the store bought ones way too salty and a bit more bland.  I like adding the fresh herbs if i can.  It makes the world of difference.

Now if you want to go all out and skip the shortcuts you can always make your own pie crust,  roast your own chicken and cut up all the vegetables from fresh... but I bet you won't.... you would probably rather buy the ready made store bought ones and just toss the in the oven and forget about it.

Make this once and see the difference in the taste and then decide if you would rather have the homemade version or the store bought version.

To me it's an easy choice once you compare them.   Do a taste test even.  Cook one of the store bought ones while you cook the homemade one and have your friends and family decide which one they like better.   I think I know what the answer will be to that question.

Go forth and make from scratch...  and Enjoy.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

SOUP - the Universal Food for Rich or Poor

Everyweek there is a new Mission created for the National Post's Gastropost section in the Newspaper. I like to look at these missions as little food challenges to inspire me or make me think about food or even think about new ways of making food.

I submitted a few photos of some of the soups I have made like these:





They are all very different soups but the one thing they all have in common is any kind of ingredient and some liquid cooked until the flavours develop.    

Soup is that simple.

Soup is the one food that everyone in the world eats and either makes it themselves from whatever they have or they get a can of good old Campbell's soup from their grocery store.

Soup can be quick and cheap like a can of Campbell's soup to a more labour intensive soup like Goulash or something like that.

You can be rich or poor and still have soup.  It can go from the simple chicken feet soup to the extreme and expensive Shark Fin Soup which is now getting banned throughout the world for the environmental damage it does and the cruelty to the shark's who are just caught for their fins and then just tossed back into the ocean or wasted.

When I was a kid soup was something my mother made for me when I was sick.  She would make homemade chicken soup with thin soup noodles and she would call it "Jewish Penicillin".  I think it actually works too.

When you don't have a lot of food and don't know what to make for dinner and you look in your fridge and see a few remnants of food and some leftovers what do you do with them?  You toss them in a pot with water and cook it until you have a flavourful soup.

Many people take oxtails which are very inexpensive and make soup with it.   

You can take the bones of almost any meat and make some sort of broth from it and add whatever else you like to it,  vegetables, noodles, rice, whatever.  

There aren't really many rules to soup.   The big rule is that you need to be able to eat it with a spoon.   That's it.   

It also made me wonder how many actual different kinds of soup there are in the world.

How many can you name?

Let's see how many I can think of...

Mulligatawny Soup
Tomato Soup
Chicken Soup
Potato and Leek Soup
Shark Fin Soup
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Mexican Soup
Kale and Sausage Soup

You get the picture... the list is endless.

So take out your stockpot and raid your fridge and pantry and see what you can come up with.

Feel free to post the soup you made or if you can even a photo of it.

I would love to see what everyone is putting in their soups..

"SOUP FOR YOU"....  make a big pot of soup and share it...

if you want recipes for the soups I posted there are some in previous posts...