My first taste of a bagel was when I was going to the University of Québec in Montréal back in the 80s’. I discovered a cute little eatery nearby making sandwiches. That place was tiny with just a couple of tables. It was more a take-out joint than anything else. It was very busy from morning to mid-afternoon because their sandwiches were original. Now let’s not forget that I’m talking over 30 years ago. Back then a sandwich was 2 slices of white bread… I know, very boring! People just started to elevate that typical lunch item to a higher level with tortillas and croissants.
My favorite lunch item at the eatery was a bagel with cream cheese and lox… oh my! From there I started buying bagels and eating them for breakfast as well. One day I came across one of the oldest bagel bakeries located on Fairmount which is still open after over 60 years. If you ever go visit Montréal, I highly suggest stopping by the bakery… you won’t regret it! Anyway, the moral of all this is I’ve been eating bagels in many flavors and loving them all!
A few years ago, David and I went on another West Coast road trip and in the middle of nowhere, we decided to stop at a small café for breakfast. To our surprise, on their black board menu hanging on the wall behind the counter, there was “jalapeño cheddar bagels” served with cream cheese. Curious and hungry all at the same time, we ordered one each. They were good but “oh boy” were they spicy! We don’t mind spicy and hot but first thing in the morning it was a little too much! There was our first and last experience of jalapeño cheddar bagel until 3 years ago…
Living so close to the Canadian/American border, we shop quite often in the states. One morning while shopping in Bellingham, Washington, we saw those jalapeño cheddar bagels again and decided to give them a second chance to redeem themselves. Nope, they failed once again by being way too “hot”. We both agreed to just forget about them…
By accident, last year we bought a jar of pickled jalapeños while there was already another unopened one in the pantry plus half of another jar in the fridge. Yes I know they’re pickled but when they sit too long, they start turning brown… not really an appetizing color! This is when the light bulbs went off and I decided to try making homemade jalapeño bagels. My first attempt was bang-on! They were not overly spicy and still had some kick to them! According to the kitchen approval supervisor, David loved them!
I love making bagels anywhere from plain to sweet and… spicy! If you want, you can omit the jalapeño peppers and just keep the cheese but why would you? This is what the recipe is all about… Next time you want to use up your pickled jalapeños (they are less “warm” than the fresh ones… that’s the reason why I use them for this recipe), try this and put a little spice in your life!
There’s a quote that says “curiosity killed the cat”… I’d say that the cat died from a vibrant life!
I’m a curious person. I’m curious about almost everything. I’m curious about where people are from, their culture, interests and so on. I’m curious about learning new things everyday… When I go to bed and learned something new that day then it was a good day! I’m also extremely curious about food – I’m sure you already figured that out… lol – and especially the ones I never tried before. My ultimate dinner date is to go to a place where I have no clue about their food (sadly the list is getting smaller and smaller) and try dishes for the first time. Now to me that’s fun!
There was a “fruit” that I never had when I grew up and it is eggplant also called aubergine in French. If you wonder why I put the word “fruit” in brackets it’s because eggplants are the same as tomatoes. They are botanically a fruit but we treat them as a vegetable – botany class 101… lol!
My first encounter with this “fruity-veggie” was in my early 20s’. I had Moussaka a few times at Greek restaurants but it never really turned my crank if you know what I mean… Years ago, I thought that if I tried to cook with eggplants I might like it but somehow never really developed a taste for it or perhaps never really created the right recipe for it. Sadly eggplants weren’t my thing until one day… When living in Toronto, I went to a Persian restaurant and by curiosity I tried one of their dishes called Baba Ganoush. My reaction was “Oh My!” and that was it! I had to try to cook with eggplants again!
Although in today’s episode I won’t feature my Baba Ganoush recipe, I actually have another one that uses eggplants and I have to say… mmmmm, it’s very yummy! The combination of nutty flavor with cheeses, spices, meat, cream and more, makes this recipe the Ultimate Comfort Food!
Yes it takes a while to make and it has a few steps to it but there’s a moment in life when spending extra time is so worth it! This is the case for this recipe. I don’t mind starting the process around 4ish in the afternoon to enjoy this scrumptious meal around 6ish! If the time is well planned while the eggplants are sitting for 30 minutes, you start cooking the beef mixture then drain it in the colander. You go back to the eggplants, pat them dry, prep them and put them in the oven while continuing with the beef mixture back to the skillet, prepping the panko & cheese mixture. After removing the eggplant slices from the heat, you start the cream sauce and while it’s cooking, you start to assemble. I would say than less than 1 1/2 hours and you have your casserole done! Deep breath…
Awesome recipe, amazing flavors and by the time you sit at the dining table, each bite will make you want more… that’s guaranteed! I’m glad that my “curiosity” drew me back to try a dish with eggplants again… I’m a happy kitten!
Since I moved here to Vancouver, I’ve been travelling a lot with David. We’ve gone on many road trips together along the Pacific coast and enjoyed the spectacular scenery! One of my favorite spots is driving along the Oregon coast… Oh my! It is almost supernatural with its big rocks standing in the water and a slight haze surrounding them. We took extraordinary photos from sunrises to sunsets and each has a mystical flare to the picture.
After the Oregon coast, another place I think is so gorgeous is San Francisco. The first time I was there is when my father and I went to visit family. It was and still is so beautiful! I love the energy of that city. There are so many places to see, so many stores to shop at as well as so many restaurants and cafés to visit. If one day I can have my main residence somewhere in the states it will be between Bellingham, Seattle or San Francisco! Of course my second residence would definitely be located in the amazing Palm Springs area. Yeah I know I’m dreaming… perhaps that’s what keeps me going…!
The cool thing David and I love to do is to experiment with new dishes – he’s finally more adventurous in that department… yippee! and even more so when we travel. There is a dish that we never had before and we were quite impressed with it. It is a Crab Louie Salad! I’m not sure if we tried it the first time in Oregon or California but it sure had an impact on us. As soon as we came back from our trip (can’t remember which one it was), I made my own version of a Thousand Island dressing and assembled the ingredients for the salad. Throughout the years, I added ingredients by replacing others to the point that now we love it just the way it is.
My version of a Crab Louie Salad is a good base as a start and you can easily change some of my ingredients with your favorite ones. I love to combine crab and prawns together but you can either keep one of them or for a vegan/vegetarian version omit both of the seafoods. I personally don’t serve this type of salad as an appetizer but more as my main course. It is packed with yumminess and when you eat this salad, trust me you feel goooood! Next time you want to have just a salad for dinner, don’t look any further… this is the one!
I have to tell you something… I’ve been having a threesome for years…! First, I had a serious love affair as a child and eventually it developed into my culinary threesome…
Cheese, pasta and I have been together for a very long time! I’ve always been crazy about cheese as long as I can remember although I’ve tried many times to break up with it… somehow, each and every time, we get back together no matter what. When Mom was making pasta for dinner, I was so happy and later on as a young adult, my favorite thing to cook was pasta dishes with cheese. This love triangle has been there for decades and although I enjoy all kinds of cuisine, pasta night still has a special place in my heart…
I knew very little about cooking when I first moved out on my own. Besides pasta dishes, Shepherd’s Pie, Beef Bourguignon and Meatloaf were my main recipes. Interestingly enough, I didn’t have any desire to cook as a child or a teenager. I wanted to be out and about, play sports and read books… funny how things can change. Therefore because of my lack of interest in the kitchen department, my mother never really forced the issue. Unfortunately, at some point, a girl has to eat and either by desperation or necessity, I had to learn how to cook.
I surprised myself on how much I actually enjoyed making dishes and from then on, food, nutrition and cooking became a part of my life. I slowly started making my own recipes and although most were not successful on the first attempt, I kept cooking until it was just right – I guess that’s my stubbornness from being an Aries… lol!
This macaroni casserole is the perfect example of creating a recipe and learning from it. It is one of my favorite comfort foods and delivers it well! There’s nothing fancy about this casserole and it will never make it to a formal dinner party but… boy is it ever good!!! Yes, guilty as charged, I place processed cheese on top and I cannot replace it with another kind! This is not the kind of cheese I use in my recipes but there’s times, like in this one, that this is THE cheese to have – I also use this cheese when I’m craving “grilled cheese sandwiches”… yeah baby! Anyway, so with (definitely with) or without cheese, this is the perfect recipe to have around this fall. It is a pretty huge recipe but the great advantage of this is you just have to reheat the leftovers and honestly, it tastes even better the day after… a delicious culinary love triangle!
Each season has its jewels when it comes to produce. Obviously the most popular one is summer with the abundance of fruits and vegetables! The farmers’ market stands are overloaded with produce. I’m not completely certain but I’m pretty sure that summer is the time of year when people buy the most produce…
Another season that brings a wide variety of fresh produce is autumn! The harvest from September to November brings a different kind of healthy produce. The wide variety of vegetables is anything from squash, beets, cabbage, rutabagas, Brussels sprouts to sweet potatoes – and let’s not forget its fruits with cranberries, passion fruit, apples, guava, pomegranates and pears just to name a few. It is just another beautiful rainbow of yumminess!
Now having said that, having people over is fun! You have your friends and family over for dinner and you really want to spoil them with a scrumptious meal and yummy side dish. Of course you served them a nice appetizer, picked the right wine to go along with your menu, played the perfect music in the background and even went an extra mile to get nice flowers to decorate your home… to make the ambiance cozy! Now here’s the final delicious touch… dessert! As I mentioned in the beginning of this video, baked goods are a lip-smacking choice, no doubt about it but sometimes it is better to opt for something different…
Pears are a delicious “late season” fruit, packed with vitamins, fiber, potassium and much more! I love pears as a mid-afternoon snack as well as a dessert. One of my favorite ways to prepare them is as Poached Pears topped with my homemade Salted Caramel Sauce . It takes no time to make… well as long as you’ve already made the caramel sauce ahead of time… and everyone… I mean everyone loves it!
Baked goods are yummy without a doubt but when these sexy shaped fruits are in season, why not serve them for dessert to your guests! There’s no other way to end a perfect dinner but with a flavorful dessert and this is a “classic” that shouldn’t be missed next time you’re entertaining!
P.S. As I was making this video, I had half a can of sweetened condensed milk from a previous recipe and I didn’t want it to go to waste so what I did was to mix an equal amount of condensed milk with my Salted Caramel Sauce and the results were fabulous! Now there’s another way to top your poached pears…