Super Easy Super Bowl Nacho Feast – With Guacamole and Pico de Gallo

February 4, 2011

I ran a practice play on this feast for the semi-finals and it scored a game saving munchdown!

Football’s grand and all, but there are only two things that can take the edge off spending up to four straight hours watching men crouching, running, jumping, crouching, running…  sweet sweet spandex, and a fabulous plate full of flavours!

– 1 large bag tortilla chips (I used Tostitos restaurant style)
– ½ red onion
– 1 green pepper
– 1 red pepper
– 3 jalapeños (you can go as hot as you want here)
– 4 green onions
– ½ rotisserie chicken shredded
(or send in a sub. with the equivalent amount of ground beef)
– 1 package taco seasoning (those magical little envelopes of flavour)
– grated mound of your fave cheese

***Strip that chicken down, grab a sauce pan and prepare meat according to taco package instructions. Chop all veggies and set aside (keeping green onion for garnish). Grate cheese. Layer chips, veggies, meat, and cheese in a large casserole dish. Cook in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling. Serve with sour cream and your fave salsa. Munchdown!

Pico de Gallo
(I was aiming to recreate the flavours in Wendy’s Baja Salad Pico de Gallo)
– ½ red onion
– 2 small tomatoes
– ¼ cup chopped parsley
– 1 lime (lemon juice will work)
– salt to taste

***Chop onion and tomatoes, add parsley, a good squeeze of lime juice, and salt.

– 2 fork mashed avocados
– ½ white onion
– 1 small tomato
– 1 lime
– salt to taste

***Add finely chopped onion and tomato to avocado, squeeze in lime juice and a sprinkle of salt. Post game confession time: While the nachos and pico de gallo are Saving Cymbria originals, I used this excellent recipe to get the guac started (but left out the garlic due to a certain personal trauma).


A sure sign it’s time to do the dishes…

November 26, 2010

“Can you get me a plate?” called hubby from the living room.

“Um… there are no plates,” I answered from the kitchen.

He didn’t skip a beat. “Or something plate-like then?”

With all due pomp and circumstance, I presented my man with a Tupperware lid.

In the years since the renegotiation of THE (infamous) DEAL – a politically charged, highly controversial, bit of newlywed legislation – we’ve held a long running Mexican Standoff over the dishes. And, much like the World War II era housewives who fashioned ball gowns out of mattress ticking, we weather each long siege (before the inevitable dish soap blitz) with resourcefulness and creativity. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but in our Calgary apartment, invention’s maternal grandparents go by the names ‘stubbornness’ and ‘procrastination’.

Quick & Easy Chickpea Salad – Guaranteed to brighten any* Monday

February 22, 2010

Because pre-emptive-meal-prepping is your absolute favourite way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon… because there’s nothing more relaxing than hacking away at veggies and scrubbing cutting boards while your hubby’s splayed out watching golf in the next room… because if you can’t cut a Monday with sarcasm, what do we have left?

Because nothing says sunshine like watered down apple juice...

Quick & Easy Chickpea Salad
2 cans chickpeas (rinsed)
1 can corn niblets (drained)
1 whole celery (roughly chopped)
1 handful parsley (roughly chopped)
1/2 red onion (finely chopped)
Lemon juice (generous squirt)
+Your fave Italian dressing
+1 head chopped iceberg lettuce

Toss everything together except Italian dressing and lettuce. To serve salad, line bowl with chopped lettuce (invaluable dressing drainage lesson gleaned from potted plants) and drizzle with Italian (or another favourite) dressing. Enjoy.

Ol’ golf watcher declined above deliciousness. “I don’t like chickpeas,” he reminded me, “except in hummus.”

“But hummus IS chickpeas,” I reminded him.

“Then why don’t you just make hummus?”

Thus, round and round we went…

*Discaimer: Some Mondays are beyond redemption. For these, one word… chocolate.

The greatest loophole in gastronomical history

November 19, 2009

This morning’s chocolate craving was fierce, unrelenting, and entirely unexpected. I’m usually the one pining for her own Ikea desktop salt-lick. But the holidays are coming, and my palate is way ahead of the Bay’s Christmas window dressers. How can I concentrate with sleigh-bells ringing in my ears and thoughts of chocolate advent calendars – dose-a-day methadone clinics for chocolate addled brains – getting in the way? No chestnuts though, roasted or otherwise. I’m allergic to tree nuts. Therein lies the problem.

What sick, discriminatory urge drove the first person to mix nuts with chocolate, business with pleasure? What a waste. What a tease. Like this morning… when, just as my craving was peaking, I discovered two boxes of chocolates on our office kitchen counter. Oh sweet relief? One was chocolate covered almonds; the other was the biggest tease of all: Turtles. Ever since that one magical Christmas long ago, when I found a stash of Peanut-Turtles hidden on the bottom shelf of a Shoppers Drug Mart in Ottawa, every ‘pecan’ box has been its own disappointment.

I didn’t panic. I just did the one thing I’ve been tempted to do ever since I can remember:  The Loophole. Yes, I nibbled, ever so delicately, around the nuts. In theory, brilliant… In practice? I’m still alive, aren’t I (touch wood). What’s a little lip tingle in the grand scheme of things? People pay thousands for Angelina Jolie’s pucker. My genetics are primed to give me one for free. Nothing like the tiniest hint of anaphylactic action to sweeten a Thursday morning.

Portrait of a marriage using the medium of Shepards Pie

October 13, 2009
Portrait of a marriage executed in the medium of Shepards Pie

Can you guess who is who? Hint: I’m got more curves

We share many things, my husband and I, but a taste for garlic is not one of them. This wasn’t always the case. In our beginnings, we spent countless romantic nights gazing into each other’s eyes over the greasy plastic tablecloths at Shawarma Palace. We planned our brilliant future together while taking turns dipping garlicy potatoes into a large shared bowl of creamy white, ridiculously potent, garlic dipping sauce. Then tragedy struck.

Life happens. People change. A strong marriage must allow for personal evolution, even encourage it. On one of those Shawarma Palace nights I made a mistake, we got totally stoned and I got carried away in the moment. I went too far. I ate an entire bowl myself. The next morning I woke up gagging with the worst garlic hangover of all time. For the next three days all I could smell was garlic, no matter how many times I showered. All I could taste was garlic, no matter how many times I brushed my teeth, frantic and  foaming at the mouth like I’d come home with a bad case of rabies – it sure felt terminal! Even now, just the idea of eating the stuff makes me nauseous. Once you’ve spent three days as a human garlic clove (sorry Robert Pattinson) any notion of it acting as a flavour ‘enhancer’ is long, long gone.

Ever the gentleman, my husband stayed married to a woman who now loathes his favourite flavour. He’s good that way. I wanted to thank him for all the culinary compromises he’s had to make since then, and what better way than with the fetid plant itself? I ‘whipped’ up the two shepards pies you see above, and tailored them to our specific tastes. Mine was loaded with veggies and sweet potato, while his was all about garlicy mashed Yukon Golds. But how much garlic powder to add? Ah yes, that was the question.

I will make any number of sacrifices for love: time, energy, even the occasional kidney; but testing garlic levels in mashed potatoes isn’t one of them. So instead, I took the logical approach and kept adding garlic until I could smell it. I have been informed by several garlicphiles since then, including my darling husband, that this is not how they do it at The Cordon Bleu.

Once again, tragedy struck.

Apparently I got carried away again, because I added enough garlic to make the thing wholly inedible. And there it sat, on the bottom shelf of our fridge, as a Tupperwared token of misguided, misflavoured love, until Yesterday. It was harder than I thought it would be to throw out, and smellier, but I think there’s a lesson here under all the spoiled ground beef and onion. When you really love someone, and you want to tell them in a language they’ll understand, sometimes you have to be brave enough to taste it for yourself first. I took up golf didn’t I~wink.

Quick and easy spaghetti sauce doubles as a chili

June 30, 2009


You’ll need…

– 1 jar of any spaghetti sauce
– 1 can kidney beans (rinsed)
– 1 can chopped tomatoes
– 1 package ground beef (1 pound)
– 1 package sliced mushrooms
– 1 bunch spinach (chopped)
– 4 tomatoes (rough chopped)
– 2 onions (rough chopped)
– splash of ketchup (1/4 cup)
– chili powder/oregano to taste

My husband loves spaghetti, while I’ve never been much of a pasta fan. I came up with this cheap and easy, one pot, recipe (in a Safeway parking lot no less) to satisfy us both. It works brilliantly over noodles or as a stand alone, fresh tasting, chili. You can play with the proportions to vary the consistency, and add some grated cheddar for extra flavour.

To make… Brown ground beef in a large pot, drain, set meat aside. Cook onions and mushrooms over medium heat in same pot until just softened. Add remaining ingredients (plus meat). Bring to boil, then remove from heat. Season to taste. Enjoy!

Note: Be sure to use your largest pot, because this recipe makes a veritable vat of deliciousness.

Let’s get off the couch and get cooking!

June 17, 2009

Sitting on the couch last night, nibbling at a stack of stale crackers, I found myself suddenly paralyzed by irony. Literary devices don’t usually pack the punch of neurotoxins, but this was an extreme case. I’d just been nodding in empathy for a woman on the Food Network who was trying her very best to convince Gordon Ramsay that she was simply “too busy to cook”. The woman seemed to have plenty of time to forage for take-out every night, just like I seem to have all the time in the world to sit watching Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Michael Smith (genius!)… basically anyone other than myself, cook. So what’s the hold up? Energy? Motivation?

Plain ol’ Preparation!

You’ve heard it before (haven’t we all-sigh), but the straight up truth is that without some minimal planning, you’re right, you probably don’t have time to cook. But the good news is that the time/energy cost of basic meal mapping quickly pays for itself. It’s time I go back to practicing what I preach and take another look at SavingCymbria’s most popular post of all time…

Need some more inspiration? Check out Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food initiative, Sandi Richard’s show “Fixing Dinner”. Or, if you live in Calgary, visit the Community Kitchen Program for a fantastic way to cook healthy on a limited budget.