Origin(al) Brunch

A few weekends ago we got a chance to check out Origin, which is a new place which is getting some good reviews. Normally we wouldn’t go because it’s a little out of our brunch radius (it’s on the east side and we’re west siders) but when our good friends Chiara & Jason decided to treat us to a meal, we couldn’t pass up the chance to check it out.

We started by ordering our drinks and since Nat was in high spirits she ordered a blood-orange mimosa, Jason and I followed suit and ordered ‘Zombies,’ while Chiara, who was recovering from cold, went with tea.  What are ‘Zombies’ you ask? Pure awesomeness.  Ok, I don’t drink a lot of fruity mixed drinks, but this was something unique. It contained white rum, dark spiced rum, pineapple juice, house made grenadine and Don’s mix, we did’t know what it was, but I found someone who made it with grapefruit juice and cinnamon syrup.n

As for meals, Jason & I both had french toast.  He went with a buffalo mozzarella, poached pear & warm walnut brittle topping and I got maple vanilla syrup, whipped cream & berry compote topping.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for berries.  One of the cool things about the french toast was that they used a bun cut in half.  It was defo something different.  We both went for the sweet toppings and enjoyed their decedentness.  That’s right I just made up a word.

Nat got Ranchero eggs with plantains, black beans, avocado, salsa and bacon and enjoyed it very much. The only thing she thought was missing was cheese. What can I say, we love cheese. Chiara wasn’t feeling like breakfast and went for a burger, which she really liked.

To make sure everyone left pleasantly filled we topped off our meals by sharing some Spanish fries (photographed above).  They were delicious and had a little bit of spiced seasoning on them.  Very cool.

Overall we liked the food, but the portion sizes were on the smallish side but I guess that comes with having rich dishes. We liked the food and the prices are higher than average but considering the downtown location I would expect they’d get a lot of patrons from the financial district.

How to Peel Garlic in Less than 10 Seconds

I’ve never had to peel an entire head of garlic at once but I’ll be sure to try this the next time I need lots of garlic. This is one of those kitchen secrets that could save your sanity. (link)

Merry Christmas From Food NA·RC

Thumbprint Christmas Cookie!

Well, these may not be Christmas cookies, but they do have a hint of red. It’s a stretch, but I’ll take it.

I found a recipe for healthified thumbrpint cookies on the Whole Foods website. I followed the recipe, but next time I am going to try to substitute some of the oil for apple sauce. If it works, I will post it.

Makes approximately 15-18 cookies.


  • 1 cup almonds or pecans
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup safflower or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons fruit juice sweetened jam (I used rasberry – yum!)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put almonds and oats into a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.

Transfer to a large bowl and add flour, oil, syrup and salt. Stir to combine well.

Roll walnut-sized balls of the dough in the palm of your hand to form each cookie and arrange 2inches apart on a very lightly greased) cookie sheet (I just used a tiny bit of cooking spray. They may not stick, but better safe than sorry).

Press your thumb gently down into the center of each cookie to make an indentation. Spoon a drop of jam into each indentation. I used a bit too much the first time around and the jam ran down the sides. I suppose it depends on the jam you use. The runny ones may not have looked pretty, but they tasted delicious.

Bake cookies until golden brown and just firm around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to let cool completely – yeah, right – eat one right away. They are just really soft.


Per serving (2 cookies): 210 calories (110 from fat), 13g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 9g sugar), 4g protein

Note: the fat content is deceiving. They are packed full of almonds, which are a healthy fat. Perfect for a sweet treat!

Cook-off #1: Pizza

Who loves pizza?! We do, we do!

Once again, festivities full of good friends and delicious food brought us back to Niagara Falls (my hometown). My oldest and dearest friends and I share many things in common, one being food! If this all sounds familiar it is probably because you read the post about Chiara and Jason’s engagement party.

In honour of Carly’s very belated birthday, we decided to have our first cook-off and pizza was our first challenge. There were two restrictions. We all used the same gluten free crust and goat or sheep’s milk cheese.

Team 1: Chiara and Jason

These two are seasoned professionals. There pizza was creative and absolutely delicious! The pizza included olive oil, honey, pear, toasted walnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil and rosemary and Yukon gold potatoes.

Team 2: Carly, Katie and Adam

They played the meat card and it was amazing. The pizza was topped with chorizo sausage, roasted heirloom plum tomatoes, chili flakes and manchego cheese.

Team 3: Marc and I

We wanted to do something different and when I started looking for combos they were inspired by goat cheese. I found the topping combination on a blog called East Village Kitchen.  Our pizza was topped with olive oil, fresh basil, goat cheese, caramelized onions, granny smith apples and had a balsamic reduction drizzled on top. It was great and we were happy with the combo.

We set some ground rules for the contest, no team was allowed to judge their own creation and that each pizza would be rated on three categories – presentation, taste and creativity. After a round of voting there was a tie between two pizzas and sadly, neither of them was ours.  We all cast one more vote to pick the winner, and the winner was…….. TEAM 2!

Carly and Adam worked really hard on creating the trophy! It was awesome. At first, Marc and I were ok with coming in last, but once we saw the trophy, we switched to sad because we wanted to take it home… sore losers I guess.  Next time, the trophy is ours!

Congrats to Team 2! (Carly, Adam & Katie)

Parsnip Fries

Two words, delicious and easy!

I love french fries. Marc is indifferent because he says he ate too many as a kid. I think they must have been of the fast food variety, because I seriously can’t turn down fresh cut fries. Regular doused with malt vinegar, poutine, chili fries… love them!

Over the years I have experimented with a variety of different substitutes for potatoes – sweet potatoes, turnip, carrots, etc. But, parsnip fries are my favourite. Parsnips are a root vegetable, similar to carrots, but sweet and spicy in taste.  They come out crispy even though they are baked. They are also easy to clean and cut, which is what I like the most. The last time I made turnip fries I got quite the workout.

Serves 2


  • 6-7 parsnips ( I find the thinner ones sweeter)
  • 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil (or just enough to lightly coat the fries)
  • Coarse salt and Pepper – to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Clean and trim parsnips. If you are not used to cooking with parsnips, you just need to peel them like carrots and trim the ends.

Slice parsnips into fries. It is important to try to make them the same thickness so they cook evenly.

Toss in oil and season with salt and pepper.

Spread evenly on a baking sheet.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping the fries halfway through. Keep an eye on them at the 25 minutes mark. They should be a nice golden brown and tender.

We ate these fries with Marc’s famous burgers – so good!!!

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