food: potato pancake with smoked salmon

okay, so i’ve posted about this dish before, but on sunday we took it to new magical levels.

the potato pancake recipe that i used previous involved blending an onion and potato for the binder… but in this version, we simply grated a potato, squeezed out all the liquid and bound it with 2 eggs.
we also added green onions and fresh chopped rosemary.  the rosemary was a stroke of genius, if i do say so myself.  of course, there was also salt & pepper.

i fried them in butter and then let them continue to cook in the oven while i assembled everything else.


one of the things that i feel really *makes* this dish is the micro greens.

i used to believe this was just some sort of fru-fru garnish that restaurants used to fancy stuff up… but when used properly, the make a lovely addition to the dish.  they’re crunchy and fresh, but not too in-your-face about it.
and you get a variety of flavours like you would with regular mixed greens, but in a much milder way.  i love them.  (thanks trader joes)

think of them as upgraded sprouts.  (if that helps)


then the smoked salmon…
ah, the glorious smoked salmon.

i’m a BC girl.  i love this stuff.
this is cold smoked, thick sliced wild BC salmon.


the next necessary item?
the farm fresh egg, poached soft.  extra soft.

we buy eggs from a local farm and the yolks are so golden and gorgeous, they’ve renewed my love of eating eggs.
free range and naturally fed chickens… happy chickens make happy eggs.
my husband is an egg snob.  he insists on these.


i only eat one egg, my husband does his with two.

then we mixed up a little organic sour cream with some fresh cut chives and dolloped it on.
top with micro greens…


and voila!



food: bacon chipotle meatloaf

on the weekend, my husband and i came across a fantastic deal for ground beef.
our local farm market where we buy our premium meats from was having a “case lot” sale of sorts with 10lbs of ground beef at a great price.
so we did the sensible thing and bought one.
we figured, hey, we’re coming up to burger season…
plus, high quality beef at a grocery store price can not be refused.
also the girl behind the counter had me sold at “you’ll have to wait a minute, they’re just grinding it now…”


but here’s the thing… when you’re brainstorming ground beef ideas, its easy to get in a rut.
there’s meatballs and spaghetti sauce and shepherds pie and of course burgers… but what else?
meatloaf of course.
delicious delicious meatloafs.

sooooo… we may have done a bit of other case-lot shopping this weekend…
like, i also have 5lbs of sweet onions… and 5 avocados… and 5lbs of potatoes…
so i’ve been in prep mode.

yesterday i thinly sliced 3 onions and caramelized them down and stowed them in the fridge for future use.
nothing in particular in mind, but i know my husband loves them, so i figured they’d be useful to have ready… and boy was i right.

if you’ve never put caramelized onions into a meatloaf, you should.

Bacon Chipotle Meatloaf with Caramelized Onions

  • 1.5lbs of ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp chipotle seasoning (i use paul prudhomme’s)
  • 1 tsp dried chipotle peppers
  • 1/2 cup of caramelized onions
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 slices of bacon – par cooked (i microwaved for 1.5 minutes)
  • some delicious bbq sauce for topping (i used House of Q Apple Butter BBQ sauce)
  1. preheat oven to 400
  2. mix beef, onions & seasoning.  press into loaf pan – i line mine with parchment for easy removal
  3. top with bacon and slather with bbq sauce
  4. cook for about 20 minutes, drain fat off and cook for another 15 minutes or so or until internal temp reaches 145F




food: peach blueberry paleo crisp

whats a girl to do when she has a late night sweet craving and seemingly nothing in the house?
scour the cupboards and invent something.

so i saw a bag of okanagan peaches and some local blueberries from last summer in my freezer and thought to myself, gee, you should probably use those before they’re totally useless.
but since they’re already getting a bit of a freezer burn, maybe you should cook them…

but paleo = no pie…
but i thought i could macgyver myself a crisp/crumble of sorts.

and hooray, i did it!


essentially, i basically just put stuff together that i thought would work in the same way as the usual crisp would…

for the filling, because i didn’t use flour or cornstarch it was a bit runny.  but still delicious.
peaches, blueberries, a little cinnamon and coconut sugar was all it needed…

the topping was made with some dried coconut, coconut flour, almond flour, coconut sugar (it’s basically like brown sugar but from coconut sap instead – tastes like a maple syrup/brown sugar love child – delightful) and some butter.  oh, and a sprinkle of cinnamon and a little vanilla extract.

baked it for about half an hour at 375 until the smell was killing me and then we chowed down.

it was a great sweet snack and definitely satisfied my “junk food” craving.


drinks: whiskey sour

my husband has taken to perfecting classic cocktails… it’s really quite breathtaking.
now that he has the old fashioned down pat…
and the manhattan is pretty solid as well…
now he’s tackling the whiskey sour.

and i dare say he’s mastered it.
he even makes his own simple syrup and has proper garnish for each drink.
he’s found his inner bartender.

one of the things we’ve been enjoying greatly is our new ice cube tray that makes perfectly square cubes.  it may seem a little gimmicky and frivolous, but they sure do look sharp.
and they melt perfectly in a whiskey drink.
so they were well worth it.


another thing we’ve been loving in our bar kitchen is these bad boys…


now, i’m a massive fan…
my husband finds them repulsive, but most classic cocktails require them, so he uses them.
and then i fish out his whiskey soaked cherries and happily nom them down.

anyways… here is the recipe…
simple and classic.

tyler’s perfect whiskey sour

  • 1.5 oz whiskey (we use makers mark)
  • .5 oz rich simple syrup
  • .75 oz lemon juice
  • 1 egg white
  1. mix all ingredients in a martini shaker and dry shake.  (that means no ice)
  2. add ice to the martini shaker
  3. shake again vigorously for at least a minute until egg whites get nice and frothy
  4. strain into glass with fresh ice
  5. garnish with maraschino cherry




and now just for fun… a montage.  20120425-185839.jpg

food: sweet potato salad

so when i initially started writing this post, it was warm and sunny and the outdoors was starting to lure me into a false sense of summer…
the playoffs were on and the canucks had just won a game (finally.)…

and now, the weather is utter garbage with pouring rain and chilled air and the canucks are eliminated.

so… potato salad doesn’t quite hold the same allure as it did a few days ago.
but, anyways, i won’t forsake a delicious potato salad its due…

problem: potato salad craving.  only 3 potatoes in the house.
solution: 1 sweet potato and 1 yam to the rescue.


this is basically my classic potato salad… just with some potato additions.

for veg, we have green onions, pepperoncinis and celery.  stalks & leaves.  because celery leaves are yummy and often wasted.


add some mayo, a little mustard and some acid… i used some pepperoncini brine this time, but a vinegar or lemon works too.

we also added 2 chopped hard boiled eggs…. salt & pepper, a little hot sauce… and voila!


smart travel tips

the number one thing that smart travelers do: they get travel insurance.

every day at my job i hear stories and see the proof of its importance and value.
when something goes wrong, its my first question.  did you take the travel insurance?
if the answer is yes, then my job just became a lot easier because i can say with confidence, “don’t worry, we’ll figure it out”…
but when the answer is no, thats when you get the deep sigh and the “okay let me see what i can do for you” answer.

obviously i don’t need to sell the virtues of medical coverage to most people… it pretty much sells itself.
outside of BC we have very limited medical coverage and outside of canada, pretty much none.
and i don’t think i have to give you scary stats about the average hospital prices in the USA to prove my point.
we all know… american hospital visits will cost you money and could even bankrupt you.

full travel medical coverage is a couple bucks a day.
which is insanely cheap for the potential return.
to me this is the biggest no-brainer.  you’re just outright stupid if you travel to the USA with no medical coverage.

cancellation and interruption is the other insurance that i buy for every trip i go on.
why?  because i know how much a one way last minute flight home costs.
and yes, while i’m convinced i’m going on holidays come hell or high water… what if something happened at home while i was gone?
my “worst case scenario” is my grandmother… she’s 83 this year.  healthy… but 83.  if something was to happen to her health, i would immediately rush home regardless of where on the planet i was.
my travel insurance makes sure i could do that at NO COST TO ME.
the reality of this is that in a crisis situation, i don’t have to hunt for the cheapest way to make it happen and waste valuable time… i can just go to the airport and get on the first plane with a seat for me and be confident that it’ll be paid for.
that assurance to me is worth every penny i spend on travel insurance.

as well, it means that if i have to fly home and i’m… say… halfway through my italy tour, i can claim back for my unused days.  my investment is completely protected.

because i travel often, and yes, even dipping down over the border for groceries counts as travel… i buy an annual package.  i pay a little over $200 and for an entire year i am fully protected for trips up to 16 days in length.
this year, that covered me for 2 trips to vegas, hawaii, seattle twice, numerous bellingham visits and most of my italy trip.
since my italy trip runs a little long, i just purchased top-up days to make sure my whole vacation is covered.

the annual package means that i don’t have to worry about my travel at all.
i can fly to vegas last minute for a weekend away… i can go shopping in bellingham and not have to worry about food poisoning or car accidents… and i can fly to the other side of the globe and not have to think twice about my worst case scenario.

sure, i may never have to make a claim… but if something goes wrong… i know i have options.

my annual package covers my medical, cancellation & interruption and my baggage and personal effects.
so if the airline loses or delays my bag, i can go buy new stuff… in addition to whatever paltry amount the airline offers…. if my hotel room is broken into or someone swipes my camera from a restaurant… i’m covered.

essentially it takes a whole mess of the STRESS out of a holiday.
and thats what you’re paying for; having a 24 hour support line in case there’s a huge car accident and traffic is shut and you miss your plane… or if you’re in europe and a volcano erupts and grounds planes for 4 days (remember that?  that was fun for me – not.)

anyways, as a travel agent i could tell you a million horror stories about what can go wrong… but i can also tell you a whole bunch of stories of people who had proper travel insurance and their horror was significantly decreased because of it.

my last word to the wise… don’t rely on “i have coverage through my work/credit card…”ect.
most people grossly overestimate what coverage they have.
work coverage is usually only limited medical coverage at best… and nothing for cancellation & interruption… and about 90% of credit cards are the same.
for many credit cards, if you’re opting to not pay the annual fee, you’ve also opted out of travel insurance.
read your fine print, know what you have and what you don’t have… and buy the rest from your travel agent.
trust me, we’re here to make sure that you’re protected.

the WORST things ever for me is when i get a call from someone in destination and there’s an emergency and i can’t help because they didn’t take the travel insurance.
i have had to tell people it’ll cost them thousands of dollars to get home because of unexpected circumstances on a package they only spent $900 on… all because they decided to save that extra $75 on an insurance policy that i offered them.
those days suck for me and they certainly suck for my client.  so don’t let that be you… plan ahead.

food & travel: gluten free vegas

since the main attraction of most of my vacations is the eating… it’s just occurred to me that my new-ish wheat/gluten free diet with paleo tendencies (yes, that’s my most accurate description for it) will need a little research and tender loving care.

thank the seven for trip advisor.  seriously, if you have never made use of the forums on trip advisor, you’re missing out on a massive resource of information of every type.  and i’m not just saying that because i’m a destination expert for las vegas.

anyways, i did a few searches on gluten free vegas restaurants and was rewarded with a wealth of knowledge.
the BEST news of the day is that my absolute favourite vegas restaurant; Border Grill has a special gluten free menu.  seriously? LOVE.
they even make it very easy on you with this handy guide…

also with a special separate menu is PF Changs… not high on my places to eat list – but you never know, sometimes that kinda food is just what the hangover ordered –
but also Mon Ami Gabi does one which can be found here – Mon Ami Gabi Gluten Free Menu and sounds AMAZING!

there’s also internet rumblings of everywhere from California Pizza Kitchen to Chipotle incorporating GF options into their regular menus.
and apparently the buffet staff are quite informed as to which dishes are safe and which to avoid, with the wynn even marking the signs to denote allergies.

i found this website… which could be something great, but right now looks like its just getting going… and las vegas advisor has put together a pretty solid list too – here.

it seems as though most of the articles i’m reading really have Border Grill, Mon Ami Gabi & PF Changs as the standout options for severe allergies as their kitchens have dedicated gluten free prep & cooking areas.  very nice to know.
while this isn’t a huge factor for me, i know this information could make a world of difference for someone with a severe allergy.
also i have respect for and trust in a kitchen that is so confident with their practices in terms of cleanliness, they can guarantee that sort of things.

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