Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chocolate Strawberry Pavlova - a toast to summer 2012!

I have been a BAD BLOGGER.  YUP, it's not that I haven't been cooking or baking or creating or even obsessing over what "my next post" will be - I've honestly just let "life" get in the way.  September - practically came...and went.  I'm another year older (eeek, that's enough stress on it's own!), the weather has started to turn... and it seems like when I get a chance to sit down in front of the computer and type, something else always seems to pop up!  WELL... that's it, I'm putting my foot down, now here I sit, computer on lap, Duke Dog curled up next to me...  My mind drifting and  I'm reflecting back on the summer... wondering.. WTF where did it go!?!?! It seems like ages ago I was rambling on about Blueberries (yup, freezer is still full of em'!) and the HOT HOT HOT weather.  Now, we're starting to prepare for the cold months ahead, and instead of patio BBQ's - long summer nights - we're eating inside, round' the dining room table, being all "grown up and stuff". ha ha  Here's my "official" disclaimer for this post: I LOVE Pavlova.  YES, not too long ago I posted a Blueberry-Lemon Pavlova... BUT I just HAD to make another one, of course switiching it up... making it "less summery" more decadent. nuff' said.  Once you try this version... you'll understand why...  This is what I came up with, and I think I fell in LOVE with PAVLOVA all over again...  Chocolate Strawberry Pavlova.

I won't dilly-dally around the recipe and details... in fact.. I'll make it short and sweet - oh-sooooo-sweet - mmm chocolate... The addition of unsweeted cocoa powder, and a handful of high quality dark belgium chocolate chunks takes the melt-in-your-mouth meringue crust to an entirely new level of awesomeness...  Real whipped cream sweetened lightly, fresh strawberries sliced and piled into the center and of course the addition of more dark chocolate chunks round out this decadent - but somehow light tasting - dessert.  YUP.  L-O-V-E.
Chocolate Strawberry Pavlova

  • 4 Egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chopped dark beligium chocolate chunks
  • 2 cups real whipping cream, slightly sweetened
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
- Preheat oven to 275F
- Follow directions for making the meringue found here up until you've got the meringue with stiff, glossy peaks

- Sift the cocoa powder onto the meringue

- Sprinkle in half (1/2 cup approx) of the dark chocolate chunks, and carefully fold them into the meringue.

- On a parchment lined baking sheet, spoon out a circle of meringue, and carefully form a birdsnest shape

- Bake at 275F for 1 1/4 hours, or until meringue has a golden colour, and is not sticky to touch
- Let cool in oven, with the door slightly open
- Once cooled, carefully remove from baking sheet and place on a serving plate

- Carefully spoon whipped cream into center

- Add Strawberries, and sprinkle remaining chocolate chunks on top! 

YUP - pretty sure I could make this dessert over and over... variation upon variation, and STILL it'd come out as one of my fav's. .... ENJOY!!!

SO, as we move on from Summer 2012... I'd like to propose a toast....

Here's to the great times spent with friends new and old.  Here's to the awesome memories made ... and Here's to what lies ahead in the autumn months!  Now BRING ON FALL!! *CHEERS*

Friday, September 7, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Tacos – Food Trucks – Fairs – Last of Summer OH MY!!

I’m sure you’re probably sick of hearing it… However.. I just have to say it as well… SEPTEMBER!?!? REALLY!?!?! How did you get here so fast?!  It seems like yesterday we were gearing up for hot temps, long days, warm nights.  Now – it’s the tease of an Indian Summer, cool nights and short days. *sigh*  For me, there’s always something that signals that Summer is on its way out the door – The Pacific National Exhibition (PNE).   We always try to spend at least one day emptying our pockets at the fair.  I mean… who can resist the latest “and greatest” DEEP FRIED Food (seriously… deep fried koolaid?!).  Walking through the fair, looking at all the different types of food trucks, got me thinking….. IF I had one… what would I serve… Everyone’s already got the perogies, fish-n-chips-hotdogs-pizza stuff covered.  Not gonna lie… I’d probably dabble those kind of items on the menu as well here and there.  But no… for sure, the star of the show would have to be these – Buffalo Chicken Tacos.

They are quick and easy.  They are PACKED with flavor.  They have a SMALL ingredient list, and though they appear “fried”, they are NO WHERE CLOSE to being deep fried!  So, all you health nuts look out…. this is definitely a recipe that you can prepare with only a little guilt. You control the spice level with the amount of cayenne and hot sauce you use.  Seriously – I just know I’d have a line up in front of my food truck! Haha

Of course, before I came to my conclusion of Buffalo Chicken Tacos… we just HAD to try out some of the stuff the PNE had to offer!  Can you say…RIB FEST!  YUM YUM! 

I believe this was the second annual competition where several different BBQ Restaurants fire up the BBQ’s and serve up what they consider to be the BEST BBQ’s & Pulled Pork recipes that are out on the market.  We tried two of them…. Both which had the most (in my opinion) alluring smell.  SO good, SO messy. SO in love with Ribs and beans!

The PNE is also known for their shows.  This year new was the Star Trek Exhibit, for both Trekkies and non-Trekkies alike, the show was worth the hour line up.  Then of course, there’s the extreme motorsports show….. Snowmobiles in the middle of summer, doing backflips. BRAAAP!  Last – but not least, we saw the Super Dogs Show.  *bless* what these pups can do is simple awesome to watch!

Then of course, there’s my personal FAVORITE part of the PNE.  I must confess, I am addicted.  It’s a good thing a good friend of mine runs the show…as they’d probably think we were stalkers.  CANADIAN KETTLE KORN EXTREME . Seriously, I will caution those that haven’t tried it…  it’s amazing, addicting, and will leaving you “fighting” over the lil’ bits of crunchy sweet/salty goodness that each bag is packed with! 

Over all, it was a long – hot – perfect “Summer Day” at the Fair – A perfect way to start “shutting” Summer 2012 down!  OH, well, being that I have NO PLANS on launching a food truck anytime soon, guess I should let you indulge and experience these yummy creations!
Buffalo Chicken Tacos

  • 4  boneless/skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup All-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup “Franks” buffalo wing sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Soft Tortillas
  • Green onions, sliced thin
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Sour Cream
  • 1 Cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- In a large freezer bag combine cornstarch, flour, cayenne, and garlic powder.
- Place chicken pieces in bag, seal and …. *SHAKE*SHAKE*SHAKE*  (did you know it works even better if you shake along with the bag too?!?! …shake your booty! J ) to ensure all pieces are evenly coated

- Add 2 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and once it gets hot, add chicken, stir frequently over high heat.  (Like you are stir frying)

- Once the chicken is fully cooked (no longer pink inside) – and “crispy” on the outside, toss with the buffalo wing sauce.

- Toss in some of the sliced Green Onions
- Warm tortillas and assemble tacos with chicken, lettuce, Sour Cream, Cheese and additional green onions (if desired)

SO… BRING ON FALL!  ….. That’s all I got…..for now! J