May the 4th Have Food

Finally back in the kitchen after a hiatus due to work schedules.

I gotta admit…it feels pretty good.

I’m known as a Star Wars Geek. I cut my teeth in a darkened movie theater at the age of 6 watching A New Hope and decided two things:

1) I totally wanted to be Princess Leia
2) I wanted to marry Luke Skywalker

Now I ended up married to a rogue (who is also a bit of a farm boy) and together we have 3 little Jedis, or he’d tell you Siths in Training. I decided this this year I wanted to introduce them to the fun that can be Star Wars Day aka May the 4th.

Now I went to Google to mine for ideas so I want to be sure to credit justJENN with the idea of one of my mains The Double Sided Lightsaber Dogs.

Pinterest was also a treasure trove of ideas.

One of the best finds we have had at a Target in Fargo was a set of Solo cups that were solid plastic in the Dollar bin. Originally purchased for our deck last year it was mentioned by a friend yesterday that you could use Solo cups and have it fit the theme. So this morning I asked the kids…Light side or dark side. Sadly they all went red “dark side”.

Starting with breakfast this morning I went with Bantha Blue Milk and Leia Waffle Buns.

Bantha Blue Milk

Bantha Blue Milk – A simple combination that got a huge respsonse.

The Bantha Blue Milk is a simple creation of some 1% milk with two drops of blue liquid food colouring.

Leia Bun Waffles.

Leia Bun Waffles – A trick I learned from my roguish farm boy

A common theme I saw on many Pinterest boards was to do a Leia Bun but there is a recent trick learned from Kevin using my Belgian Waffle Iron. You take a refrigerator cinnamon bun and put one piece in each section of the waffle iron and press the iron together. I’ve got a Proctor Silex Waffle Iron and I set it to 3 and let it go for a couple of cycles before taking it off to serve.

I also highly recommend making sure you have some non-stick cooking spray on hand when you do this.

Leia Bun Waffles - I really like the shape.

Leia Bun Waffles – I really like the shape.

I had to work so a lunch menu was not in my hands today but maybe next year.

On to the dinner menu:

As previously mentioned I went with a Double Sided Lightsaber Dog.

Prepped Lightsaber Dogs - An homage to my husband's Dark Side Leanings.

Prepped Lightsaber Dogs – An homage to my husband’s Dark Side Leanings.

A really simple but fun entree. Simply take a weiner and then wrap a refrigerator crescent roll around the centre to make the handle so that you have a “blade” on either side of it. This was an homage to my husband’s love of the Dark Side and frankly I really think Darth Maul’s saber is pretty bad ass.

Finished Lightsaber Dogs - I made extras for the kids to take to school for lunch tomorrow.

Finished Lightsaber Dogs – I made extras for the kids to take to school for lunch tomorrow.

Now I wanted to provide a bit of variety in my menu today so I inspired by the Han Burgers I’d seen on Pinterest and decided to go with a Han slider which my kids are a huge fan of. While measuring out my 1lb of ground beef for my sliders I remembered that I had a spice from Epicure called Dukkah.

Epicure's Dukkah Spice - I thought it was a fun play on Count Dooku.

Epicure’s Dukkah Spice – I thought it was a fun play on Count Dooku.

This spice blend is one that I have come to love with ground beef. I’ve used it in past to add some spice to a meat loaf and the fact that it was a perfect play on a Star Wars character’s name really tickled my fancy. I added 1.5 teaspoons of it to the ground beef along with my salt and pepper and then went to mix my meat together.

Dukkah spiced sliders in the pan.

Dukkah spiced sliders in the pan.

Now for what to serve my sliders on. Princess Leia was known for her epic hair styles and I often wished my hair had been long enough to braid like hers. I was thrilled when I found these Braided Egg Buns from Kub Bakery.

Braided Egg Buns - An Homage to Leia's many braided hair styles.

Braided Egg Buns – An Homage to Leia’s many braided hair styles.

Finally for a side I felt giddy at the play on Yavin 4 with my Yam-in 4 Fries.

Yam-in 4 Fries in the oven and cooking on my Epicure chip pan.

Yam-in 4 Fries in the oven and cooking on my Epicure chip pan.

The two meals were a total win with my kids so I’ll take it as a sign that the Force, or maybe just the 4th, was with me.

VIP Date Night

As we were home with the kids on Valentine’s Day Kevin and I decided that we would have a make up date on Friday the 15th.

Our date night plan was to enjoy the Cineplex VIP experience and have dinner at the theatre. This isn’t the first time we’ve gone to the theare as we saw Skyfall there in November but we didn’t take advantage of the Meal Service At Your Seat option and decided this time we would do the full experience.

The lounge you enter when you proceed into the VIP section of the theatre is very nice. Dimly lit, with a fire place and close tables it is like entering a nice sit down restaurant. They even had the Jets game on a big screen for folks to watch as they waited for their movie to be seated.

Upon entering we found a pair of comfortable chairs and settled in to skim the menu. We started off with drinks and we both selected the one of the Special Drinks for the month.

I liked my drink so much I snapped a picture of the contents so I can try to re-produce this at home.

I liked my drink so much I snapped a picture of the contents so I can try to re-produce it at home.

Kevin went with a Head Over Heels and I selected Stupid Cupid. I’m a raspberry fan but I have to confess that I was a bit leery about the Raspberry Vodka/Bailey’s combination. Turns out it is indeed very very good. I enjoyed the martini so much that I am determined to figure out the right ratios to re-create this drink at home. Kevin commented that he was also very happy with his drink. He’s not a big Peach Schnapps drinker but the combination worked again with the other ingredients in the drink.

So kudos to the mixologists that Cineplex employs to create their featured beverages.

A benefit of the VIP experience is that you get to reserve your seats almost like going to a concert so if you wish to linger until the lights dim your seats will be there waiting for you.

A benefit of eating in the lounge area of the VIP theaters is that if you aren’t finished your meal with the lights dim you are more than welcome to take it in with you. With a variety of easy to transport bites on the menu this is an attractive option for your dinner and movie date nights.

One of the downsides I found to the evening was that we wanted to experience the whole have your meal brought to your seat so we chose to skip ordering in the lounge for ordering in our seats closer to show time. The difference is that the menu at your seats in the theatre has a limited selection of items. I had been eying a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich in the menu in the lounge and was sad to find that it wasn’t offered at my seat. In future I think I will order in the loungeĀ  and then take it into the theatre to ensure that I get what items catch my attention.

Mac and Cheese Bites

Mac and Cheese Bites

We started with the Mac and Cheese Bites and while not terrible I wasn’t as blown away as I was with the deep fried dill pickles I had when we went to see Skyfall. I usually don’t eat my mac and cheese with ketchup but tried dipping my breaded bites in the ketchup they were served with and while it wasn’t horrible it didn’t wow me. Next time I think we will either go back to the deep fried pickle or try the calamari which was getting really good reviews from the couple sitting next to us.

Chicken Fingers with Sweet Potato Fries.

Chicken Fingers with Sweet Potato Fries.

Still craving something with zing I went with the Chicken Fingers with Thai Chili Dipping Sauce paired with Sweet Potato Fries. I really enjoyed my selections immensely. The chicken fingers were perfectly cooked with a nice crispy coating and I enjoyed the Thai sauce. The sweet potato fries were good as well and paired nicely with the dip recommended by our server. I did still wish however, that I could have enjoyed something like a buffalo chicken wrap.

Kevin's Angus Burger

Kevin’s Angus Burger

Kevin went with the Angus burger which you can see came fully loaded and Sweet Potato Fries as well. He was happy with his selection. I took a bite of his burger and it was very good. It had that grilled taste that makes you long for a warm Spring night with grilling and cold beer.

Overall I enjoyed my “full experience” at the VIP theatre. The food is delicious, even if the at seat selection is limited it isn’t something that can’t be dealt with by choosing to eat in the lounge and carrying the food into the theatre. The seats are roomy and comfortable to sit in with a nice side table that you can put your meal and drink on. One feature I really loved was that we could put the centre arm rest up and be snuggled together almost as if you are a couple on a love seat.

Given the upcoming lists of block buster movies coming in the next few months I’m sure we will be back.

Spoiled Friday

I don’t often get to eat out for two meals in a day. Often we look at cooking creative meals into our home and sharing it with our kids as dining out with 5 of us can get pricey these days.

Yesterday was the exception to the rule. I was meeting a friend for lunch to talk a little life and a little business and then a very much looking forward dinner and a movie night out with my husband. A spoiled day indeed.

Now I’ve one rule when eating out and that’s to go with what I would enjoy simply because it is a treat. I can count calories and balance portions when I am at home, which is the majority of the time, but when I am out I just want to enjoy the whole experience.

I guess one could say that I let out my inner food loving child out in that I want what I want when I want it way.

Starting with Lunch at Yujiro Japanese Restaurant on Grant.

First, I drove past the location. It is not quite where you would expect it to be. I had even Googled the location prior to leaving the house and still missed it so I had to get turned around.

Once I got parked and inside I was struck by how nice the decor was and the overall ambiance. It is a place I’d go and just have tea, something to eat and read a book. It was very welcoming and I just sorta settled in ready to enjoy my lunch there.

With the day in front of me and -30 + temps outside I opted for the green tea which came as a full pot that was big enough for myself and my lunch companion to share. At some point in the meal the server stoppedĀ  by and re-freshened our tea with a full pot.

I started with a 4 piece Shrimp Tempura. This has to be one of my favourite items when I go for sushi. I also like Yam Tempura but decided to treat myself to the Shrimp this time.

Spicy Ebi Fray Roll and a Kamikaze Roll

Kamikaze Roll on left and Spicy Ebi Fry Roll on the right. Lunch at Yujiro Japanese Restaurant on Grant.

For my lunch I went with a Spicy Ebi Fry Roll (deep fried shrimp with spicy mayo and sesame) and the Kamikaze Roll (scallop, flying fish roe, mayo, chili, tempura crumb) and I enjoyed both of these very much. I’m not able to use chopsticks very often so when I do go out for sushi I do use my hands to eat with. My husband assures me that this is actually acceptable so I often just give folks a head’s up and go ahead and enjoy my meal.

I’ve even developed a liking for pickled ginger! Usually I give it a pass because I’ve found the taste not to my liking, after a There’s Always Domino’s level mishap, but I always re-try things. I like the idea that my palate can change and embrace new flavours. I still find it strong but now it is a pleasant palate cleanser rather than something I avoid eating.

At the end I have to say I was pleased with the service, pleased with the meal, pleased with the price and just overall pleased with the experience and the suggestion that came from my lunch companion.

Dinner out with my husband, Kevin, is probably one of my favourite ways to get quality time in together.

We both enjoy a good meal and I think it is fair to say that we enjoy being able to enjoy a meal where we don’t have to remind our fellow diners of table manners.

We decided to go to the Moxie’s at St. Vital Centre and then see a movie at the theatre there. We saw Hansel and Gretel and in my opinion it is worth going to see if you just want to park your brain and be entertained with your snacks.

We started with drinks an extra spicy Caesar made with gin instead of vodka for him and the White Zin Sangria for me. I’ve been drinking red wines lately but originally I was a White Zinfandel drinker. This was a nice variation on just having a glass of wine. My husband said his Caesar could have been spicer but to be fair he enjoys a bit more spice than the average Caesar drinker.

Our shared appetizer didn't last long! Moxie's Potsticker with Pineapple Salsa

Our shared appetizer didn’t last long! Moxie’s Potsticker with Pineapple Salsa

When we go out we often share an appetizer. This time we went with the suggestion from our server. She stated it was one of her favourite menu items and we decided it sounded like a fine way to start our meal. I really enjoyed the soy sauce underneath the potsticker and when I had finished my 3 I took my fork to try the pineapple salsa. Kevin is much handier with the chopsticks than I am.

Moxie's Lobster and Brie Sandwich with Fries and Basil Mayo.

Moxie’s Lobster and Brie Sandwich with Fries and Basil Mayo.

I ordered the Lobster and Brie Sandwich with fries. I usually go with sweet potato fries but will admit to not giving it much thought when I ordered. The fries sounded great when she offered them to me! Kevin went with the Beef Vindaloo. I think it is fair to say we were both happy with our selections.

I found my sandwich to be crunchy and the flavours to be everything I wanted from it. I was a bit worried that the lobster and brie combination would be overly rich so when I saw the size of the sandwich I was thrilled at the amount of food I got but worried that the two rich food items would be more than I could handle. I was pleasantly surprised that the portion proved to be just right. I enjoyed the Basil Mayo as a dip for my fries.

I even got to sample a bite of Kevin’s Vindaloo and I think I may order that next time I go.

Moxie's Dark Chocolate Mousse.

Moxie’s Dark Chocolate Mousse.

Often when we go out I will have a main that is too much food and I always go by the rule of “If you didn’t finish your dinner…” For once I got just the right sized main and decided rather than candy at the theatre I would indulge in the Dark Chocolate Mousse to finish my dinner. It was amazing! There is a layer of espresso (I want to say cream) on top of the mousse itself and the two together make for a really rich bite. I saved the strawberry for the end to help cut the richness of the dessert on my palate.

We left full, content and completely thrilled with the experience. The staff definitely added to the overall enjoyment of the evening.

All in all a great day of food!

It is nice to be spoiled once in a while!

To find Yujiro online: Yujiro Japanese Restaurant

To find Moxie’s online: Moxie’s Grill & Bar