July 23rd, 2014

My Turkish Delight

Posted by Laurel

Wow, has it already been a month since we’ve blogged? It was a much needed break from the routine and we had a wonderful time just being in the moment and spending time with our family without any of the regular constraints of being home.

Visiting the the Turks and Caicos was…well..almost surreal. It was beautiful….like we’re talking cray-cray beautiful. I couldn’t stop taking pictures because i kept looking around going, “Wha…???? Is this place real?” Indeed it was and i’d love to take you on a mini tour today, if you don’t mind, because i just know that you’re gonna want to add the Turks to your list of must-go vacations! Listen, they’ve been talking about making the Turks and Caicos a province of Canada. Ummm..what are they waiting for???

Quite simply, i loved the beauty, the food (shocker, hey?), the company and last, but def not least, the sunsets.

Colors took on a life of their own. Blues, a million shades of brilliant turquoise, royal blue, aqua, azure all at once…i have never seen such bold and pure blue! And sand the texture of icing sugar…glorious. It is the land where filters are not needed! Hope these pics sway you my way…

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I can be a bit of a freak about my kids in the ocean…i don’t like that you can’t see the bottom when they’re out there. So this was the best of both worlds! Tons of fish to look at and super kid friendly…as this pic below shows…we’re out in the middle of the ocean close to a reef where our snorkeling excursion took us. With water this clear and calm, snorkeling was  breeze for the kids and less stressful for mom!

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Bold red starfish dotted the turquoise waters. Loved having a close up look at these intricately and delicately formed creatures.

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It will come as no surprise that both Pam and i searched for some great food..Caribbean style of course!  Fish tacos were in abundance…oh, they were speakin my language on that one! Conch, a local shellfish was also in plentiful supply…conch fritters, conch ceviche, conch tacos…every last variation i tried was delish!

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This treat was termed “Banoffee”…if you’re thinking Banana, Toffee and Coffee Whipped Cream, you’re onto us!

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And this coffee haunt is proof that it doesn’t matter how far away from home you might be, there’s always a kindred spirit in coffee to be found! This coffee shop became our morning ritual…we would wake up, throw on our beach coverups and walk along the ocean about 3 km for our morning java. Iced of course! Round trip, it was some great exercise to start off our day!

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Eating on the beach on July 4th, which coincidentally is also Scott’s and our nephew, Griffin’s birthday, was a huge highlight. Toes dug into the cool sand, sipping crisp white wine and indulging on seafood paella is pretty memorable…add in the sunset and well, it was a family moment i wish i could have pushed pause on for a long while!

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Euro style even in the Caribbean…seriously, our nephew has got it goin on!

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When in Rome, right?  White attire for beach photos is pretty much a give-in… so thankful that we were able to travel as an entire family!  The kids thought staying with Grammy and Pappa was pretty fun too!

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The sunsets were beautiful. The setting of the sun didn’t mean it was time to grab your sweater. We spent the time eating, taking pics and even taking sunset swims…the warmth was a little less intense than daytime but still without a hint of a chill. We weren’t cold…not once! My sweaters took up precious space in my luggage…next time i’ll be a bit wiser…

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Until next time Turks…we WILL be back… who’s comin?

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June 30th, 2014

Sweet Start – Catching our Breath!

Posted by Pam

 

We made it!!!  Through June, that is.  June was a bit of a gong show with end of school activities, wind ups for spring hockey, club volleyball nationals and beach volleyball start up, dance rehearsals and year end shows….whew!!!  It’s been month full of great things….just busy.  And today….we BREATHE!

Laurel and I have been debating whether we should take a bit of time of…a “blogcation” of sorts…not because we don’t enjoy it, but simply to take some time to really be in the moment with our families this summer.  We are going away on an extended family vacation to the Turks and Caicos and then heading to New York for a dance competition.  We’ve been busy scouting out resties and attractions and mapping them all out!!

We have not taken a break since we started the blog over two and a half years ago….so we have been conflicted!  Our readers are the BEST…so loyal and supportive…we don’t want to let YOU down!

So, here’s the scoop….we won’t be posting for a few weeks.  However, our Instagram accounts @sugarplumsisterlaurel and @sugarplumsisterpam and our Facebook page will be active with updates of our travels, family adventures, food experiences and shopping finds.  So please follow along!

We are so looking forward to gathering tons of inspiration from our travels for fresh and new ideas….in time for your summer barbecues, trips and more!   Thanks for your support and understanding and we will see you back here July 23!

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June 27th, 2014

Life’s Short…Eat Ice Cream

Posted by Laurel

Today’s Friday Find is a pretty sweet one..literally. Ice cream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Oh, love the memories as a kid making trips to Dairy Queen to get ice cream and “chill out” on a hot summer night. The art of ice cream has come a long way..and now not only quality ingredients make it more enticing but there are flavors that tempt even those who previously snubbed their nose at the thought of licking a melting, messy cone (read: ME)!

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Here are some my favourite ice cream and gelato haunts in Vancouver and east.

1. Earnest Ice Cream 3992 Fraser St.Vancouver - i’ve raved about them before, but one cannot rave enough. London Fog and Whiskey Hazelnut are our family picks, but Salted Caramel and Cardamom give them a run for their money. Be prepared to wait..the long lineups are proof that they aren’t just a passing fancy.

2. Bella Gelateria 1001 W Cordova St, Vancouver –  i’ve waited in line in freezing temperatures for here..that’s love. The focus here is old world handcrafted gelato…and they are serious about it. If you need convincing, would the title of “Winner of the International Gelato Festival in Florence, Italy 2012″  catch your attention? Simply put, the best gelato in the city is right here. The offerings change often as seasonal and local ingredients are called on to create unique flavors and combinations. My favorite? Erin Ireland’s Banana Bread Gelato.

3. La Casa Gelato 1033 Venables St, Vancouver –  With 218 flavors, this is almost more of an event than anything else…it’s a bring your family type place! Fun watching the little ones try to choose a flavour…thankfully unlimited samples abound so you can try as many unusual flavours as you want. Portobella Mushroom, Garlic, Curry, Sea Weed? Yep. Non-dairy, no sugar alternatives as well as the classic gelato flavours you would expect are also available.

4. Milsean Shoppe 2900 272 St, Langley- Located in the old firehall in Aldergrove, Milsean offer sweet treats with an Irish twist, including gelato with their signature Demerara Butter Crunch as a topping. Think dark buttery toffee poured over freshly sliced almonds and covered in Belgian Chocolate. Delicious!

5. Birchwood Dairy 1154A Fadden Rd, Abbotsford – Enjoy your ice cream in a farm setting…hanging with the cows that made you that ice cream! I’m a bit of a purist here and love their vanilla.

6. Krause Berry Farms 6179 248 St, Langley  - I’ve always come to Krause to stock up on their luscious berries…strawberries, raspberries..oh, and their corn pizza! I’ve been tipped off that their ice cream is pretty awesome…especially their strawberry flavour. Their expanded grounds are also perfect for an evening out, where you can wander around with your cone! Can’t wait to make a visit here soon…

7.  Vitala Ice Cream  1356 Sumas Way, Abbotsford – Happy Cow Ice Cream made farm fresh cow milk. Visit their stand to buy a yummy cone and then walk around the eco dairy to watch the goats hanging out on the rooftop or make your way inside to see the new Science World exhibit ..ever wanted to test your skills at milking at cow? Now’s your chance…

I’m putting the challenge out to you, sisters! Make an ice cream run this summer…and make sure to tell me where your favorite is. Oh and don’t forget to share you favourite flava-flaves too :)

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June 26th, 2014

Barbecued Peppers with Feta and Fresh Herbs

Posted by Pam

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It’s that time…BBQ season!  I love it…I prep the protein and veg and Jason cooks them up on the barbie.   We live on a farm and have 35 acres of greenhouses growing sweet bell peppers….that’s a lot of peppers and we eat a LOT of peppers! So, Laurel and I are always looking for new recipes and new ways to prepare peppers.

Several years ago, my mom found this recipe in the Vancouver Sun for grilled peppers.  I used to make this recipe all the time and just haven’t for a while.  I recently made it again and, yes, it has stood the test of time.  I enjoyed it again just as much as I used to and when I made it for Mac’s hockey windup, there wasn’t a single slice of pepper left.  And it’s pretty healthy too!  I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly….here’s my version…

 

barbecued peppers ingredients

 

Grilled Pepper Sunburst
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) pure olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds (1 kg) bell peppers (red, orange and yellow)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) finely chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ pound (125 g) feta cheese, crumbled
  • 16 pitted kalamata olives or sliced black olives
  • 2 tablespoons (130 mL) balsamic glaze or reduction
Instructions
  1. For the sauce, mash garlic and 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt to a paste in a mortar with a pestle or mash them together with the back of a spoon; transfer to small bowl.
  2. Whisk in 3 tablespoons (45 mL) balsamic vinegar, oil and black pepper.
  3. Core, seed and cut peppers into quarters.
  4. Put peppers into Ziploc bag and pour sauce over.
  5. Marinate for several hours in fridge.
  6. Remove peppers from sauce; reserving sauce.
  7. Place peppers, skin side down, on greased barbecue grill over medium-high heat.
  8. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly charred but not mushy, basting with sauce and turning every 3 minutes.
  9. Arrange on serving platter.
  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Sprinkle with oregano, rosemary and thyme.
  12. Sprinkle with feta and olives.
  13. Drizzle balsamic glaze or reduction over peppers.

 

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This is the perfect side to any barbecued protein.  If you slice up the peppers into thinner strips after grilling, you can serve this on top of lightly toasted focaccia or sourdough as an appie.  You can make the marinate sauce the day before and refrigerate it for even quicker prep!  So, get your grill on!

 

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June 25th, 2014

Summer Cookout: Caesar Burgers

Posted by Laurel

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Grilling is as synonomous to summer as sunshine and flip flops. Truth be told, we grill pretty much year round but it sure is more enjoyable when you’re not holding up an umbrella! I tend to keep our dinner meals as healthy as possible ( i prefer to cheat at about midnight..umm that’s a habit that needs to be broken!), but these burgers are ones that Scott goes a little crazy for. The recipe for these is an oldie but a goodie..it comes from a cookbook i received as a wedding shower gift over 17 years ago. I’d say it’s stood the test of time! I’ve made a couple of changes over the years and yet the original is a delicious one, albeit not the healthiest. Hey, sometimes you just need a burger!

This recipe is so good because most of the burger fixins actually go right into the burger patty before it’s grilled. Oh and then you put more of the fixins on top. Double the flavour..it’s all good. Bacon, caesar dressing, parm cheese…all in the patty.

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I like to make the burgers quite large as they always shrink on the bbq…not too thick but a good circumference. There’s nothing more annoying than sinking into a big burger bun with a piddly patty. I should trademark that. Piddley patty. Ha!

Fire up the grill and watch those cross-hatch grill marks appear…

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The toppings complete the burger…bacon, caesar dressing, tomatoes and cucumbers. Think cucumbers on a burger are weird? Try it, you’ll like it!

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Scott has a habit of sneaking cheese out to barbie…

 

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All loaded up and ready for the eatin!

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Caesar Burgers
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup creamy Caesar dressing
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs or cauliflower run through the food processor
  • 1 tbsp crumbled bacon
  • 1 large crushed garlic clove
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ lb (750g) ground beef
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and Caesar dressing
  2. Stir in parmesan cheese,bread crumbs, bacon, garlic and pepper.
  3. Add ground beef, working in with your hands until just blended (overmixing toughens meat)
  4. Shape into patties, about ½ - ¾ inch thick.
  5. Grill on preheated bbq for about 6-8 minutes per side.
  6. Serve on rolls with bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers and an extra dollop of Caesar dressing.
Prep
In a time pinch, Renees Mighty Caesar dressing, located in the refrigerated section of produce department, is our dressing of choice. There is a light version as well.

 

 

 

 

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