Sunday 25 January 2015

Jalapeño Peanut Crusted Haddock

I recently had the chance to try these delicious Jalapeño Peanuts made by Sensations (the Sobeys Brand). They are a wonderful mix of salty peanut flavour with the kick of the Jalapeno spice. As someone who loves all things spicy, I was immediately stuck with the idea to use these in cooking somehow.

The first idea that came to mind was to use them as a breading/coating for fish. I planned on using Halibut but the store didn’t have any fresh so I went with Haddock instead. I thought that a white fish would be best as it has a light and flaky texture and isn’t as “fishy” tasting as some other types.

Jalapeño Peanut Crusted Haddock Recipe

6 Haddock Filets
2 Bags of Jalapeño Peanuts
2 cups of flour
2 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoon pepper
3 eggs
1/2 cup of milk

  1. Mix the flour, paprika, salt and pepper and lay out on a large plate
  2. Mix the eggs and milk in a container/bowl and whisk together
  3. Use a food processer to crush the nuts into a finer texture (You could grind them super finely but I opted to leave them a but larger for more of a crunch) and lay these out on a plate
  4. Take each piece of Haddock and press it into the flour on both sides 
  5. Drag the flour coated fish through the the egg mixture 
  6. Then press the Haddock into the peanuts until both sides are covered.
  7. Lay covered fillets on a foil covered baking sheet
  8. After preheating the oven to 350, bake these for 20 minutes.

I opted to serve this with Martha Stewarts Cilantro-Lime Rice which complimented the fish wonderfully. I loved the way the meal turned out and would definitely make this again! 

Sunday 11 January 2015

Punta Cana Princess

Ever since our last all-inclusive vacation Amanda and I had been making plans to take another one. We had been keeping an eye on various places and prices and decided to book last minute because we were flexible in terms of dates. The only plans we had were to find someplace hot and sunny that had a beach, and that we would go sometime in January. Once November came around Amanda had a few things pop up around that month which narrowed down our timeline considerably meaning we needed to make our decision sooner.

While I was open to going any place, Dominican Republic was at the top of my list as it’s an island I had never been to. I loved last years trip to Ixtapa, Mexico but wanted a beach that was more on the Caribbean side then the rougher Pacific Ocean. Cuba is an island that I would love to visit but they get very similar weather to Florida and beautiful sunny days aren’t guaranteed in early January. Mexico was another option however there were a few travel advisories issued which made us leery. As we started seriously looking we both decided we wanted to spend the extra money and pick a place that was adults only. It’s not that either of us have anything against children but the idea of a week away without any families and small children running around was appealing. Around Black Friday Sunwing had a relaxation package for some of their adult only properties. Of course some of these were a bit out of our budget (the amazing ones with 10+ restaurants, swim out rooms and amazing amenities) but there were some nice-looking mid-range options. One of these was the Punta Cana Princess, a resort that I had looked into a few times.

The price was good and the dates matched so we went with it and booked. The resort is a smaller property with just under 300 rooms – all of which are billed as suites. The resort had one large pool, was right on the beach, had five restaurants on-site as well as a small market. Almost all of the reviews were positive with previous guests raving about how amazing the manager was. Plus, it was part of a larger property meaning that we were able to visit/eat/spend time at the two sister properties.  

We left in the morning of January 2nd excited about getting away from the freezing cold Toronto temperatures and arrived at the resort by 4pm. The flight was okay – mostly smooth with friendly staff. The man next to Amanda talked to us – well mostly her – the entire flight, but he was sweet. We had the priority package which made getting our luggage a breeze and Amanda had pre-paid all of our arrival taxes which made it great. Once at the resort check in was easy but we requested a room change as we wanted to be in the building closest to the pool/beach. While we were waiting the assistant manager came over with champagne and introduced himself to us. He made sure that we knew he was there no matter what we needed and to answer any questions. Once our room was ready, he actually walked us to it pointing out all the features of the resort. I found this to be an incredible gesture and he really went above and beyond for us.

The room was nice – it was on the ground floor with two double beds, a couch, an outside sitting area, fridge and a large bathroom. The bathroom however was clearly designed with couples in mind. First, there wasn’t an actual door. The bathroom had a large Jacuzzi tub at the entrance and a sink/counter area. To the back there was a toilet and a shower both with stall-like doors. This allowed some privacy but not much. It meant Amanda and I had to ensure coordination when the other was showering/getting ready. We made it work, but it’s the only thing I disliked about the resort.

Our vacation was exactly that – a complete vacation. We actually never left the resort and spent the entire week either laying by the pool or beach. I had wanted to do an excursion or two but we could never decide on which one so we ended up passing on them. Our days followed the same pattern – we woke up, ate breakfast, laid by the pool/beach, hung out with the friends we made, had some drinks at the pool bar, ate lunch, did more of the same, went in, showered, changed, ate dinner, watched TV and were sleeping by about 9pm (we are such thrilling 29 year olds huh?).

The staff at the resort were amazing – we loved the daytime pool bartender who took great care of us all week and any time the manager saw us he made a point of coming over to talk with Amanda and I to make sure everything was going well. The food was wonderful – we loved our dinner at the Mexican Steakhouse which had excellent beef fajitas. The Italian restaurant was nice but wasn’t one we were in a rush to return to. The fondue restaurant was a unique choice for the Caribbean but was very well done with great food – we ended up eating there twice.  The buffet was also decent – we absolutely loved their seafood night!

While we had a low-key vacation there was a lot to do around the resort. The activity crew always had fun games and contests going on and we made a lot of great vacation-friends from around the world that we spent time with. There was a super sweet older Canadian man from Saskatoon as well as a group from Oakville/Burlington. Some of my favorite people were a group of English tourists who were on their second week of their vacation. We had a lot of fun times with them and still keep in touch via Facebook.

It was a wonderful vacation and a great mix of sun, sand and relaxation. I loved spending a week with my best friend and look forward to future vacations! Also for anyone heading to Punta Cana this is a place to stay!