Combining my interests of music, cooking, recipes, photos and tune talk.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lobster and Lamb Surf and Turf

Lobster and Lamb Surf n' Turf with Avocado Salad
The Soundtrack: Songza's Players Holiday

I am back in Ottawa for another visit and hanging out with Matt and Matt.  Naturally, we fancy only the finest things in life so rather than go to some restaurant for a mediocre meal, we decided surf n' turf on the BBQ was the way to go.

To complement the feast, we pumped the Players Holiday playlist from Songza.  For those that don't have Songza, get it.  Its great for expanding the music variety.  The playlist was loaded with gangsta classics like Cube, Snoop, Pac, and C to the O double M O N. This was selected by Matt as the host of the festivities.

The lobster tails were split and grilled for about 4 minutes a side. We grilled them with a Chili-Lemon garlic butter which was served as a dipping sauce as well. Not much more to it than that!
The lamb loin chops were pre-seasoned with rosemary and who knows what else,  but it was delicious.  This was also cooked on the grill. Lastly on the grill was the Zucchini, which was coasted in sesame oil.

The Salad, put together by Matt, had peppers and avocado and was served with a fancy Oil and Balsamic combo.

All in all, a perfect mid-afternoon, post-gym snack.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Matty's Sweet Potato Simplicity

Sweet Potato Simplicity
The Event: Guest Chef #2
The Meal: Matty's Sweet Potato Simplicity
The Soundtrack: Classified
Drink of Choice: Tap water

Great Album
So after watching Matt eat the same thing again and again, I suggested his perfected recipe needs to go on Cooking to a Soundtrack.  Being that my blog has been light on posts this year, this was a good way to get some content to all of my loyal follower(s).

As a defining soundtrack of Matt's move to Calgary, Classified was the natural option.  We hit up his concert when he hit Calgary earlier this year and we've been bouncing to his new album since it dropped.
Sweet Potato

Chicken Breast (Pre-cooked for convenience)
Green Peppers
Secret Spice
Secret Weapon Spice (Le Clubs' Fiery Habanero & Roasted Garlic spice, limited edition of course)
Speedy Matt
Sweet Potatoes

In preparation, cut the sweet potatoes, coat in olive oil and spread out on a pan for the oven.  Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, flipping once half way.
While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, cut up the chicken, peppers, mushrooms and broccoli and add to the pan with the secret weapon spice.
Serve with the Hummus as a delicious accompaniment.

Chef's Notes:  Lacking the culinary creativity of my host Dave, I do find myself making this meal about 4-5 times a week. I find it to be a quick and affordable way to make a massive quantity of healthy food. So as the great Classified would say, "That's what I do."

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Steak and Onion Pie

Steak and Onion Pie
The Celebration: First Blog Post of 2013!
The Soundtrack: John Mellencamp - The Best That I Could Do
The Meal: Steak and Onion Pie

The Drink: 12YO El Dorado Rum

First off, happy New Year to any loyal follower that may have made it through this postless winter and is still actually checking for updates.  I've been exceptionally busy and while I have been eating quite well, its been a lot of travels and a lot of repeat meals.  I always fall back to the classics when pressed for time. For the record, I've had a few blog worthy meals during this drought, but I've had people over and my dedication to hosting trumps blogging.

It was time to pull out a classic for the evening's soundtrack.  John Mellencamp's The Best that I Could Do has always been a favourite of mine and I have listened to it many times.  He has a lot of great tunes on the album and its one of those ones that you can listen to all the way through and know every song.

Since spring has finally sprung, it was time for a nice fresh bottle of rum.  I picked up a 12 year old El Dorado from the liquor store on the way home. The Guyanese make a delicious rum! Lots of ice as always.

As for the meal, it would be too cliche to slap a BBQ post and say, "hey it was over 15 degrees, lets slap some meat on the grill" (stay tuned for a later post where I slap some meat on the grill). Steak and Onion Pie is a recipe I randomly dug out of the cupboard.  Dusted off an old classic, just like The Best that I Could Do.  Meat is great, Pie is great, so what could be better than meat pie?

Coated Cubes Getting Browned
1/4 Cup Flour
2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper
1/2 Tsp Paprika
A little Ground Ginger
Titch Ground All Spice
1lb Cubed Beef (Round Steak)
Cooking Oil
1 Medium Onion Diced
2 Medium Potatoes Diced
2 Cups Water

Simmering the Filling

In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, ginger and all spice. Coat the meat cubes in the flour blend and put them into a hot pan with the oil and brown on medium.  Add the onion, potatoes, the remainder of the flour mix and the water and simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

I've already covered the pie pastry in a previous post and once again I am digging into the freezer to grab a pre-made batch from the last time my mother visited.  Once the pastry is rolled and in the 10" pie plate, load the filling and top with another roll of pastry, seal the edges and brush with eggwash to help turn golden brown.  Cook at 450F for 20-25 minutes.

It's been a while since I've had a good pie related meal and this one did not disappoint.

Going forward, I probably won't have the time to do as many posts as I did in 2012, but fear not, the blog is not dead! There will always be new recipes to try and fun ideas to cook up!
Steak and Onion Pie with Grilled Vegetables

Friday, November 30, 2012

Grey Cup Celebration

The Event: Grey Cup Partay
The Drinks: Canadian Beer

With Calgary making it to the Grey Cup, it was cause for gathering and celebrating while hopefully watching the Stampeders win the big trophy.  Not being from Calgary and having long standing family ties to the Stamps, I appreciatively got invited to the Loach family residence where Stampeders Fever was in full swing.  I am still waiting for my Riders to return to Ottawa which is supposed to happen in 2014 once Landsdown is finished.  Until then, the Stamps are my number one and will remain my top western conference team after that.
Spare SAAB Key

Problem #1: The day started ominously when I arrived at Neil's place to pick him up and head to the party and my car decided to lock its doors while still running.  I wasn't even aware this was possible with cars made in the last 20 years, but another lesson in life learned the hard way.  But after a few "what the **** do we do now?" and "This is my worst nightmare!" comments, we quickly jumped into action.

Fortunately, the car door wasn't completely closed so there was a little gap at the top of the window.  After sacrificing a wire coat hanger to the cause, Neil and I managed to stick it in the small gap and hit the automatic window down button.  Problem solved in plenty of time to make kick-off.  Gone in 60 seconds eat your heart out!  I think I might be ready for a career in car jacking, should this engineering gig not work out for me, and so long as everyone leaves their cars running without fully closing the doors.

Pigs in a Blanket
Upon arrival, the house was decked out with jerseys, pennants, footballs and tons of other related paraphernalia!  Quite the football party scene.  And even more importantly; tons of food.  Tables of chicken wings, cold meet plates, stuffed mushrooms, Shrimp, etc.  And all of this before a full dinner and dessert!

Not wanting to go to a football party empty handed, I did a quick surf of the Internet to find an appropriate appy to bring and pigs in a blanket sounded perfect.

Pigs in a Blanket Ingredients:
Mini Smokies
Onion (Sauteed)
Cheddar Cheese
Puff Pastry

 Apart from the fact you have to individually wrap each one, its a fairly easy process to make.
The smokies are slit down the middle and then cracked open to squeeze in some sauteed onions,  and a small piece of cheese.

I decided to wrap the squares by tucking two of the corners together at the top.  This allows the consumer to see what is inside before they shovel it in their mouths.

These went over real well and I'm sure I'll make them again next time I need finger foods.  Superbowl party??

Roasted Salsa
Roasted Salsa: For no other reason other than I had a bunch of tomatoes sitting on the counter, I also decided to make salsa.  I've done this a bunch of times before so I decided to find new recipe.

Roasted Vegetables in the Food Processor
Martha Stewart told me to try this one. Its basically like regular salsa, but you roast all of the vegetables first.  Probably the best salsa I've made so far and my new go to Salsa Recipe.

3 Tomatoes
1 Onion
3 Jalapenos
3 Cloves Garlic
1 1/2 Limes Juiced
Salt and Pepper
1 Schwack Cilantro

Basically following the instructions right out of the recipe, I put all of the vegetables on a roasting pan and chucked them on the top rack of the oven on broil.  I let them brown up a little bit (~10 minutes with a few rotations) and then put them in the food processor. Mix in the lime juice and salt and pepper.  Too hot?  Add more lime juice.

Lastly add the chopped cilantro. Add as much as necessary depending on how much you like cilantro, but Martha recommends 1/4 cup (chopped).

Unfortunately, I had completely forgotten that the wonderful hostess of the evening, Mrs. Loach, is allergic to peppers.  Being the second time I have now contributed something with peppers in it, I will have to pay more attention next time.  I least I had the piggies.

Problem #2: The game was pretty shitty.  Unless you were an Argos fan and and weren't too concerned about the quality of the football being executed on the field, it was a pretty ugly game to watch.  The Stamps played a poor game and the Argos won the Grey Cup without too much resistance. I guess the world needs to throw Toronto a sports related bone every once and a while since they obviously can't win anything else.

Even though the horse didn't get to make a victory lap, the party was a success and I eventually rolled myself to the car after way too much delicious food.  Time to get ready for Grey Cup 2013!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Mac and Cheese

Deep Fried Mac and Cheese
The Meal: Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Mac and Cheese
Mandatory Accessories: Defibrillator

So this is one of those meals inspired by Paula Dean.  It's what she calls a 'sometimes food'...  Meaning that you only eat it sometimes because you wouldn't last too long eating it all the time.  In fact, since her latest health kick, you can't even find her recipe on her website anymore.  Using a different mac and cheese recipe and free styling the bacon and deep frying part, I used her previous recipe as an inspiration for the dish only.

Cheese Sauce
Since you have to make the mac and cheese recipe first and then let it cool before making the cubes to wrap, it became a two night process, with regular mac and cheese on night one. This worked out find since Robyn came over for dinner and had no interest in the bacon wrapped deep frying debauchery.  She made the Mac and Cheese, but didn't leave the recipe so I can't include it here.  But in the end, the secret it lots and lots of cheese. I'm sure pretty much any Mac and Cheese recipe will work.

In night two, this is where you put your cardiologist on speed dial.

Chilled Mac and Cheese Cubes
1 Mac and Cheese Recipe, prepared, chilled and cubed
Vegetable Oil

Using the chilled mac and cheese, it can now by cut into cubes that should stay together assuming you used enough cheese. Wrap each cube with a strip of bacon.  Then coat in flour, egg and breadcrumbs.
Most literature I found on the subject suggested that the optimal oil temperature should be around 350F.  I don't have a thermometer so I guessed.  Not sure how big a difference that makes, but my results weren't fantastic.  The first one cooked on the outside, but was still cold on the inside.   Oil too hot perhaps so it cooked too fast on the outside?  Not sure.
Coating Process
Boiling Oil

But my solution was to microwave the the cubes before deep frying them so that the middle is at least warm before the fry process.  While this worked, its probably not a technique taught in culinary school...

I served it on a bed of lettuce to show that there is some green and healthy sides along with it.

In the end, it probably wasn't worth the effort to make nor fat intake.  It was good, but not as epic as the title might lead you to believe.   The plain ol' mac and cheese was a superior meal.

So that's two posts in the last several that have added bacon with marginal results.  This won't slow me down and I am going to have to start posting some delicious bacon successes, since it makes almost everything better.

Monday, October 22, 2012


 A meal straight from the old country, if I were at all Italian...
The Meal: Lasagna and Caesar Salad
The Tunes: Aimee Mann - Charmer
The Drink: Glass of Orvieto

Homemade lasagna and Caesar salad is one of the best meals going.   I've made my dad's recipe many times but I'll never get tired of it.  I don't think he gets tired of it either since it was my grandfather's recipe that he's been making all of these years.  The secret to its deliciousness is likely the boatload of cheese that's in it.

It tastes great right out of the oven and it still tastes great the next day reheated.  It'll have for another dinner later this week, a few lunches and perhaps I'll freeze a few pieces for lunches another time when I am too busy/lazy to make anything else.

I just got Aimee Mann's new album Charmer.  I've really enjoyed her last couple albums so I was looking forward to hearing this one. Not sure if I like it as much as @#%&*! Smilers, but I'll see if it grows on me.  You also have to be in the right mood to listen to her so I'll definitely be listening to this again. 

Tons o' Cheese
1lb Ground Beef
1/2lb Sausage
1 Recipe tomato sauce
1lb Cottage Cheese
3/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
12oz Mozzarella
1 Pasta Recipe Rolled into Lasagna Noodles

Now you might ask, what is "1 Recipe Tomato Sauce"?  Well, in this case, its a homemade tomato sauce that I took out of the freezer since I always make double batches.  It takes a while to make since it needs to simmer and a double batch takes the same length of time to make as a single.  I'll definitely get to posting that recipe here when I make it the next time. 

Beef, Sausage and Tomato Sauce
Make the pasta (1 cup flour, 1 cup semolina, 3 eggs) and let it rest while you get the rest prepared.  Brown the ground beef and sausage and then add the tomato sauce to warm it up. 


Start with a quarter of the meat sauce on the bottom of the dish and over with a layer of noodles, then one third of the cottage cheese and Parmesan and finally mozzarella.
Repeat these steps a total of three times ending with a meat layer.  Top with the remaining Parmesan and Mozzarella. 

Assembling the Layers
Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350F.

Serve it with a fine Italian wine, some garlic bread and a delicious Caesar Salad.  As for that recipe, I'll have to include it at a later date.

I understand that I just posted a meal of Lasagna and Caesar Salad and I didn't post the tomato sauce recipe nor the dressing, but I'll get to them, I promise. 

Super Cheesy Deliciousness

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip and Bacon Cookies

Cookies with Bacon
The challenge: Does Bacon make everything better?

This was a conversation I had with Molly a few weeks back and while chatting, I found a recipe for bacon cookies.  Chocolate-chocolate chip with bacon!  There were lots of different bacon cookie recipes believe it or not.  This one had some of the best reviews so I figured it was worth a shot.

Conveniently, we had a work pot luck on Thursday and poker night on Friday which allowed me to make a batch, try one and then share the rest so I don't have to eat an entire batch myself.

As I made them Wednesday night, I was chatting on the phone with Matty so no tunes in the background.

Cookies in the Oven
6 slices of Bacon (I'd recommend more)
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Butter
2 Eggs
2 Tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
2/3 Cup Cocoa
3/4 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt
2 Cups Chocolate Chips

First step is to cook the bacon and then crumble.

Mix together the sugar, butter eggs and vanilla.  Then add the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
Finally, stir in the bacon and chocolate chips.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350F.

I brought a batch to the work potluck where the cookies were well received, except most of the comments where similar to "Great cookie, but can't taste the bacon".  So I might recommend adding more bacon next time if you want to bring out the salty bacon flavour.  Otherwise, don't bother.

Another batch I brought to poker night on Friday night.  These cookies didn't last 5 minutes.  I didn't solicit any feedback, but the fact they sold out almost as fast as a Garth Brooks concert tells me they couldn't be that bad...

Does bacon make cookies better?  Inconclusive.  The cookies were delicious, but I am not sure how much better they were because of the bacon.  I'll need further testing before fully committing.

More Turkey Leftovers

The Meal Plan: Turkey and more turkey

Turkey Tacos
After several leftover turkey dinners and the turkey pie already mentioned there was still some turkey left over and a carcass for soup.

A Turkey Taco uses everything leftover from thanksgiving  so it'll help clean out the fridge.

Leftover Turkey
Mashed potatoes
Soft shell tortillas

The picture pretty much tells the whole story.  Reheat and layer the leftovers, add some cooked bacon and shredded lettuce.  Eat carefully so you don't get covered in gravy!

Turkey Soup
Turkey Soup

This soup recipe I found on the internet.  Don't be fooled by the photo on their website...  There are no noodles in the recipe so its obviously not the right soup!  This is the actual soup.

Turkey Carcass
2 Celery Stalks
2 Carrots
1 Onion
2 Bay Leaves
1 Tsp Poultry Seasoning
2L Chicken stock
2 Cups Rice

In a large pot, put in the carcass and add the celery stalks, carrots, onions, bay leaves poultry seasoning and chicken stock.  Add some water as required to make sure the carcass is covered and then bring to a boil for at least an hour.

After boiling the carcass, take it out and scrape off all of the pieces of turkey.  Cut up any turkey pieces that are too big and add it all to the soup.  Add two cups of rice and boil for another 15 minutes.
In my case, this turned my turkey soup into a turkey pilaf as the rice absorbed all of the liquids, but it was easily fixed by adding more water.  It actually turned out well since I froze a concentrated container that I can just add water to later.

This brings an end to the Turkey tales for Thanksgiving Turkey.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Turkey Pot Pie

Slice of Turkey Pot Pie
The Dish: Turkey Pot Pie
The Tunes: INXS Live Baby Live

After a successful turkey dinner at Thanksgiving, there was a pile of turkey leftovers so one delicious way to use them up is by making a turkey pot pie.  Afterwards, mom asked me if I used dad's recipe, which I did not.  I was unaware he had a specific recipe.  So perhaps next turkey time, I'll try that one.  But for now, I used this recipe from allrecipes.

Now it still had a home feeling since I used the last of the dough that mom made last time she was in town.

I haven't pulled out a CD to listen to while making dinner in a while so I decided to go to the shelf.  INXS Live Baby Live is a good live album of their late 80's and early 90's tracks (a bunch from their mega successful album "Kick" which I also have).   We picked this album up originally in 1991 while travelling in Australia as it had just been released at that time.
Turkey and vegetable mix in the pan

Pie Crust
4 Tbls Butter
1 Onion (diced)
2 Stalks Celery (chopped)
2 Carrots (Peeled and chopped)
1 Tsp Oregano
2 Cups Chicken Broth
3 Small Potatoes (Peeled and cubed)
2 Cups Leftover Turkey
3 Tbls Flour
1/2 Cup Milk

Uncooked pie with filling
First step is to fry up the onion, celery carrots in half of the butter.  Then add the herbs, salt, pepper, chicken broth and potatoes.  Boil until the potatoes are firm but not mushy. 
In a separate pan, toss in the remaining butter, turkey, flour and milk and heat.  Add the turkey mix to the vegetable mix and prep the pie dough.

I used a 9" pie dish with crust on the bottom and top with slits cut in the top to allow steam to escape.  This made a ton of pie which I ate for lunch and dinner for several days.

Delicious Pie!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The Holiday Meal: Thanksgiving!
Golden Brown Stuffed Turkey
The playlist: Multiple
The drink: Multiple

Thanksgiving wouldn't be thanksgiving without turkey and fixin's.  As the host for the festivities, I volunteered to make the turkey, stuffing and gravy.  As an extra, I decided to make some fresh bred to to with the meal too.  Guests volunteered to bring salads, sides, desserts and of course more booze.

The day before prep started by getting the turkey cleaned and brined as well as getting the bread together to rise over night.

Brined Turkey:
Turkey in Brine Bucket
15lb Turkey
2 Cups Salt
2 Cups Brown Sugar
Fresh Rosemary
Food grade plastic container big enough for turkey

Dissolve the salt and the sugar in a bit of warm water.  Once dissolved, add cool water, cleaned, unfrozen turkey and fresh herbs into the food grade plastic container.   Make sure there is enough water to fully submerge the turkey.  Put it in the fridge and let it sit overnight.

The bread was a no-kneed variety with Kalamata Olives, Feta and oregano, but I'll get into that recipe and variations in another post since there's enough going on in this post already.

Robyn's Pecan Pie
The game day process started at about noon so that all of the various items could cycle through the oven in time to get the turkey cooking by 2:30.  First Robyn's Maple Pecan Pie, then the bread and finally the turkey.

The music was pumping in the house from the first dial of the oven, all coming from my various iPod playlists.  Drinking country, Retro dance mix, and a ton of hip-hop and pop favourites, including the now legendary Enrique Iglesias DDG remix which had earlier got us unceremoniously written up and booted from the Tunnel mountain campground (and by us, I mean only Neil).

Bread Stuffing:
1lb Sausage
3 stalks Celery
1 Onion
Poultry Seasoning to taste
Bread - Most of a regular loaf

Brown the sausage first and then add the onions and celery to the pan.  Season with poultry seasoning to taste and add to a bowl of bread pieces.  This is always a good time to use up the left over bread bums and miscellaneous buns left over in the freezer.  Since I always seem to run out of stuffing, I doubled this recipe.

Now its time to introduce the stuffing to the host bird.  Take the bird out of the fridge, empty out the brine solution and rinse the turkey.  Pat it dry including the cavity.
Cram the stuffing into the cavity and then close up the hole using the legs and the skin flap.

I covered the stuffed turkey with tinfoil and put it in the oven for 4 hours.

Then the guests started to arrive.  First in the door was Trid, with a bottle of rum and a vegetable dish in tow and I knew we were in for a good night.  We also mixed in a few beers and several bottles of wine to go along with the all night fire.

After eating too much main course, we then proceeded to eat too much dessert.  We polished off an entire cake for Steph's birthday! Happy Birthday Steph!

 With all the leftovers in the fridge, what's Honey Badger going to eat for the next week? Turkey.