Adventures in Restaurants: Theatre Food.

RestaurantLogoRemember when you were a kid and the snack bar in theatre’s was limited to pop, popcorn and candy? The concession stand was always a fun place because it was full with all the crap your parents never bought when they went shopping. Every possible candy item, popcorn and soda was right before your eyes, and choosing what you wanted was always the hardest part for me. Sure, popcorn was a must, but the sky was the limit for the rest.

Drive-In’s were always different. More of an adventure and you got a wider choice of food items. Now we had hot-dogs, fries, hamburgers; geez, it was like barbequing in the back yard. Dinner and a movie! At the drive-in here, they have pizza. Floored me the first time I saw that. Who needs to go to a restaurant when you can eat at the drive-in!

The simple days of theatre food are gone, my friends. We went to see the movies on the weekend and the whole thing was an adventure in over-abundance. Huge bags of popcorn, large-sized drinks, and if you get a combo you can tack on a bag of candy. That’s just at the concession stand.

Our local Cineplex has the regular snack food; popcorn, drinks, candy, but a few other options as well. There’s one stand where you can purchase wraps, sandwiches, premium nachos and hot dogs. If you’re really hungry you can turn it into a meal by adding fries, sweet potato fries or poutine along with a drink (soda). Oh, it gets better. Don’t like regular popcorn? No problem! Now you have a variety of flavours to choose from; cheddar, sour cream and chive, garlic parmesan, all dressed (ew), jalapeño and cheese, caramel corn, kettle corn, chocolate-drizzle caramel, Chicago Mix (?), and rainbow(?). But wait! There’s more! If you don’t care for all that ‘junk food’, and want a somewhat healthier alternative, why not try some frozen yogurt or a smoothie! Top your yogurt with either fruit or sweets.

I told my mother about the variety and her only reply was . . .

“What happened to just having ordinary popcorn?”

Yes, what indeed. I’ve yet to try anything outside of the normal, but one day who knows?

 

Does your theatre offer more than just the usual fare? What do you think of all the extras?

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Adventures in Restaurants: Our Anniversary Dinner.

RestaurantLogoLast November my husband and I celebrated our 24th anniversary. I still can’t believe we’ve been together for so long, but looking back over the years we’ve done so much together that it’s true.

When we first got married we went out to dinner on every anniversary and always to the same place. One year we took his grandmother because her birthday was the next day. When we had our son we changed to celebrating it as a family, so naturally we went places that were a little more ‘kid-friendly’. Now we’ve come full circle and are back to making it a nice romantic dinner for two, and we headed right back to the same restaurant.

As usual, I started off with escargot. This was as cheesy as it looked. Some places make their appetizers almost like a meal and after eating this I was worried I wouldn’t have room for the entre. Hubby had French Onion soup. Again, it was so much.

When our entrée’s did come, I was relieved to see they were normal portions. Husband had lamb chops while I had a steak. I asked for it to be med-rare and it was a little more on the rare side than I would have liked, but wonderful and tasty.

We even had room for desert! Husband’s slice of cake was larger than we thought, and I had a caramel Brule. This was not what I expected. While the pudding itself was very good, I didn’t care for the sauce. It tasted burnt and bitter. I didn’t say anything as I didn’t know if this was the way it was supposed to taste but I doubt I’ll try it again. I scraped off as much as I could and finished it. That was really the only disappointed part of the night.

Do you go to the same place every year to mark a special occasion?

From the Recipe Box: Quick and Tasty Chicken & Mushroom Dinner.

With the holidays over we can all use a break from the rich holiday foods or the processed dinners that seemed to dominate the season. I’ll admit that we ate a lot more processed food than I wanted, but between school and work, not to mention we had a couple heath issues that kept us immobile, it was a matter of connivance.

Now that the holidays are over and most of the goodies are gone, it’s time to get back into a better eating habits and making dinners that are quick, easy and tasty. That’s why I love this recipe for two reasons; first, you can cook this up all in one pan and second, it’s so quick and easy to make that anyone of any cooking skill level can prepare

INGREDIENTS:

1 tbsp. oil (for browning)

1 Package of (12) skinless & boneless chicken breasts

1 whole garlic

1 cup of sliced mushrooms

1 cup chicken broth

 

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat oven to 250.

With your skillet on medium, fry up the chicken to a nice brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

On med-low heat fry garlic and mushrooms.

Add chicken broth and deglaze the pot. If you want a thicker sauce, add your choice of thickening agent (flour, corn starch, etc). Personally, I like potato starch.

When sauce has thickened add the chicken back to the skillet.

Place skillet in oven and let cook for 30 minutes.

*You can add herbs or other seasonings of your choice*

Serve with a side of your choice. I fried up homemade hash browns with onions and some veggies.

Adventures in Restaurants: The Lure of Mall Food Courts.

RestaurantLogoMalls have been a part of our shopping experience since the late 1950’s. The first enclosed mall was built in Minneapolis in 1956 (Association for Consumer Research, 1991, http://www.acrwebsite.org/search/view-conference-proceedings.aspx?Id=7196) and with them the food courts. These dozen or so small stores of food and drink can be a life saver when you’re out and need a bite to eat, especially with kids.

Food courts are a wonderful idea. If your family consists of a diverse taste (like mine), you can find just about anything to suit even the pickiest of eaters. Everything from fast food burgers to (if you’re lucky) a healthy alternative to all that cholesterol and trans fat. It may not be the quietest place to have dinner, but people aren’t looking for the comforts of the dinner table.

I can’t imagine a mall without a food court. They’ve pushed out restaurants as the number one place for mall shoppers to eat. I remember the first time I visited a food court. It was the late 1970’s and I was in grade seven. We used to sneak out from the gym (where we had lunch) and go to the Kingston Center. The high school kids used to go too and there’d be a wave of students from both schools running across the busy roadway. There were probably a half-dozen or so food places, but the one I remember the most (for several reasons neither of which are food-related) was the pizza one. We’d grab a slice and a drink and barely have time to finish before mall staff were rounding us up and herding us out the side door. Yeah, they didn’t like us there.

Food courts offer a wide variety but you have to remember that even the healthiest of food here can still be considered ‘fast food’, and during winter (especially here in Canada) the produce is barely ripe, but it’s good to have healthier(?) options, especially during the holiday season when people are over-eating high carb meals and sweets. It’s too tempting to go for a burger and fries instead of a salad or a heart-smart wrap, so we have to see it for what it is; a small divergence from the norm. Not many people I know eat fast food on a daily basis, so once in a while it’s a treat.

What do you think of food courts? Any interesting ones in your mall?

From the Recipe Box: 3 Cheese Spinach Dip.

I’ve never been a fan of spinach. It’s one of those plants that made me cringe as a child. Even as an adult I still can’t eat it, and no matter how many times people say it’s good for me or I should try it again—sorry, that’s just a nope, but I’m an adult so every now and then I give spinach another try, and sometimes I’m surprised. This was the case when we had dinner at Montana’s with my aunt a few weeks back. My son ordered an appetizer – spinach dip. He said he’d had it before and it was AMAZING, and he was right! Of course it’s mixed with cheese, but that didn’t mean you couldn’t taste it the spinach, but it’s not as overpowering as by itself.

There are numerous recipes online for this dip. You can even find the recipe for Montana’s dip too, so I’m not going to put it here, but I will link to several pages where I found recipes.

This is a quick and easy dip to make. You can go old school and create with all ingredients, or just use a few and a pre-made dip.

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Montana’s 3 Cheese Spinach Dip

http://www.food.com/recipe/4-cheese-spinach-dip-259584

Cheese Spinach Dip on All Recipes:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/228778/creamy-cheesy-spinach-dip/

Cheese and Bacon Spinach Dip:

http://damndelicious.net/2014/12/29/cheesy-bacon-spinach-dip/

Easy Spinach Artichoke Dip

http://juliasalbum.com/2015/04/easy-spinach-artichoke-dip/

Is there a food that you can only eat a certain way? I’m the same with asparagus too and broccoli too. Me and dark green food just don’t see eye to eye.

From the Recipe Box: French Onion Soup.

Soup is one of the easiest things to make, but often because of a demanding lifestyle we can’t make it from scratch.

French Onion soup is one of those dishes that demand your attention. You can’t just throw everything into a pot and have at it, the beginning – and the most important part – caramelising the onions is time consuming but if you want to get it right it needs all your attention. This is also one of those dishes where ingredients are everything. Some dishes you can substitute one thing for another, but sometimes you just have to follow the recipe to get the best result. Case in point, I could have used the onions that were already in the fridge (yellow), but for this soup I would suggest you use Vidalia. When caramelising you want your onions to be blonde, and these are perfect. The good thing is, once the carmaelisation is done you can relax, so if you’ve got about an hour to spare try this recipe on for size.

[Three Kinds of Caramelised Onions] 

You can put whatever cheese you wish on top. Most recipes I found called for Mozzarella (mild flavour) but I used Swiss and Parmesan that the recipe called for. If you want authentic, then use aged Gruyère.

I found the recipe I made HERE.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 4 cups beef broth**(1)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine **(2)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  •  salt to taste
  •  black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan divided
  • 2 baguette slices toasted
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese

French onion soup

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Stir in onions, salt, and sugar. Cook 35 minutes, over medium/medium low, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized.
  3. Mix beef broth, white wine, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and bay leaf into pot.
  4. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  6. Mix in vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Place oven safe soup bowls on a rimmed baking sheet. Fill bowls with soup. Top each bowl evenly with parmesan, bread, and swiss cheese.
  8. Broil until bubbly.
  9. Serve immediately!

For a truly authentic French Onion soup, I found this recipe. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/authentic-soupe-a-l-oignon-gratinee-french-onion-soup-52847591

I used regular butter as opposed to un-salted but didn’t add any extra salt, and I found it still quite salty. Probably because of the store-bought broth. Next time I’ll use unsalted butter and low-sodium broth, but home-made would be best. I didn’t add the wine either. With such a small amount mixed with Worcestershire and balsamic vinegar, I doubted I would even taste it.

Have you made this soup before? How did it work out for you?

 

 

 

From the Recipe Box: Salad; more than just an appetizer.

It’s that time of year, folks! As warmer weather ushers in a new season (and the one most Canadians anxiously wait for), our thoughts turn to a summer staple; the salad.

We have been eating salad since the time of the Romans and Greeks. Over the centuries the dish has evolved into what we know today. The history of the salad is very interesting and I found this site if you’re inclined to know more.

History of the Salad http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodsalads.html

I like salad; it’s healthy (or can be depending on what you include) but I like the diversity even more. Salad is not just greens and veggies cut up into bite size nuggets, and having a variety of options breaks the food boredom and can be more healthy for you than sticking to the same thing all the time. Even combining different foods (meats/veggies, fruit/veggies) will add new life and flavour to your meal.

zoodle-salad

Zoodle Salad. Recipe found at the link below.

There’s a psychological aspect to eating salad as well. For me, salads represent summer. The low calories (to counter-act all that winter comfort food) and fresh produce are synonymous with the hot weather. When the humidex reaches 35c at supper time, the last thing you want to do is turn the oven on and cook a hot meal. The same can be said for the cooler weather too. There’s nothing like a good crock-pot meal on a cool autumn day to make one appreciate the season.

Salads (as well as cut veggies) have become so popular that an industry has sprung up to accommodate the growing need. The bagged salad industry, which sees itself as providing nutritious food without the hassle of preparing it, estimates that it will sell close to $8 million dollars work of product in 2018.

https://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/blogs/trending-foods/2014/08/bagged-salad-produce-sector-worth-7-billion-by-20.aspx

http://www.natureswayfoods.co.uk/discover/fresh-perspectives/changing-trends-in-salad/

Salads are a staple of meals, and in today’s hectic lifestyle, it’s nice to know that people have an alternative meal choice other than fast food.

For your enjoyment, here is a link to some wonderful salad recipes.

http://dish.allrecipes.com/36-top-rated-savory-and-sweet-summer-salads/

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