Easy Chicken Shawarma Kebobs

My last post was almost a month ago! Life gets busy sometimes and finding moments to sit and reflect don’t come around often enough. I have been on a journey to better health, and it’s been wonderful!

I think we’ve all experienced that moment, day, week, (year?!) where you feel tired, heavy, bloated, just not right. I felt myself sort of falling into that funk and realized that I wanted things to change. I am by no means a doctor or nutritional expert, but I’ve put myself on the path to success by focusing on sleep, exercise, hydration and (OF COURSE) eating healthy, yet DELICIOUS, food.

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Shawarma kebobs served with leafy greens and golden sweet potato rounds. Drizzled with tahini dressing.

The idea that “healthy” food doesn’t taste good is a complete myth. I am a food lover, seafood maniac, obsessed cook and comfort food junkie, and I am loving this. I’m focusing on a diet with less high-calorie, highly-processed ingredients, while cutting back on refined sugar, salt, dairy and most grains. (Following paleo diet rules, with a few exceptions.) :) It’s all about what foods work for you, so change up whichever ingredients and foods make you happy.

Click here to check out my latest healthy creations on Instagram. You might get some ideas for yummy meals at home.

I am so completely delighted by the amazing food and recipes I’m adding to my repertoire, I haven’t looked back. I am so excited to share these recipes on the blog, because they are SO DELICIOUS and SO EASY.

Chicken shawarma makes me drool. It’s one of my fave dishes. If you haven’t heard of it, shawarma is a meat dish with variations all over the Middle East, Europe and the UK (all over the world!). Layers of seasoned meat (chicken, lamb, turkey, beef) and fat are speared and cooked on a rotating spit. The juices drip down the stack and the meat is shaved off around the outside as it becomes cooked. It’s usually served as “fast food” in a pita as a sandwich, on rice, or with fries. (I’m drooling.)

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Photo cred: Wikipedia

Making my own version of chicken shawarma at home is one of the best things I’ve done in a while (could possibly become the worst, because I can’t stop making it). I use chicken breast, shawarma spices, no salt and grill these on the stove on my grill pan (this recipe is paleo-friendly). (My recipe was inspired by a recipe from Paleo Cupboard.) You could do this on the barbecue and stick the chicken on skewers too, perfect for the summer!

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Chicken shawarma kebobs, served with garlic zucchini hummus.

Chicken Shawarma Kebobs Continue reading

Cupcakes For Dinner! Turkey Zucchini Meatloaf “Cupcakes” With Garlic Thyme Mashed Potato “Frosting”

Who says you can’t have cupcakes for dinner? Cupcakes made of meatloaf are an exception to the rule. Take that, mom! I’m eating “cake” for dinner!

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I’ve been so excited to post this recipe! It’s all sorts of amazing baked together in a dozen muffin liners. I came across a photo of meatloaf cupcakes a while back and thought they were the cleverest thing I’d seen. You’ve got a popular classic food combo (meat and potatoes), easy recipe, delicious flavour and genius creativity all in one. If you know someone that doesn’t like sweets, this would be a fun surprise for them. (I smell a good April Fool’s Day prank!)

The beauty of meatloaf “cupcakes” is that you can use whatever meat or meatloaf recipe you like, and “frost” with any mashed potato or mash/purée vegetable you prefer! They reheat well, cook faster than an actual loaf, make for good “leftover lunches” and would be perfect for a potluck or fingerfood-y gathering. They’d be great for kids too, because they’re fun (and you can totally hide extra veggies in the meatloaf for added nutrition).

I used turkey zucchini meatloaf (which is really moist and delish) and topped it with creamy garlic thyme mashed potatoes. Fantastic combo! These “cupcakes” were definitely a hit!

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Turkey Zucchini Meatloaf “Cupcakes” With Garlic Thyme Mashed Potato “Frosting”
Makes 12 “cupcakes”
You can pre-make and warm in the oven if it makes life easier…or just make and serve! :)

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Fleur Du Cap Wine Tasting At The iYellow Wine Cave

Nothing cures a case of the Thursdays like relaxing music, good people and a glass (or two or three) of vino. It’s Thursday once again, and I am caught reminiscing of last week when I hurried down to Queen Street after work for a wine tasting at the iYellow Wine Cave.

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iYellow Wine Cave. 243 Queen St. West. Toronto.

Don’t know where that is? Neither did I. The space belongs to the iYellow Wine Club and its’ doors are on an alley just south of Queen Street; it’s a hidden gem…or basement. Upon entry, you immediately take a staircase down into “the cave”. We entered from the bright, sunny outdoors into a cool, dimly lit cellar. I felt a little like I had entered into another world. The room had a cozy, relaxed feel to it and was decorated with hanging lamps, candles, bookshelves, mirrors, tables, comfy couches and WINE (of course).

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Inside the cave.

I won’t lie, I’m no wine connoisseur. To be honest, I was a bit nervous at first about going to a wine event and not knowing enough about wine. Don’t sweat it. I found out within minutes that iYellow wasn’t about wine snobbery, but wine education…and fun! The iYellow Wine Club is a free-membership community of wine lovers founded by Angela Aiello with over 10,000 members. It’s a place where you can taste, learn and build wine confidence. I got a chance to chat with Angela, who explained the whole idea behind the club and told me about some of the events and tours they hold. They hold wine tastings, tours, classes, vacations and other events. Check their website for more details.

I was handed a wine glass and the evening began. This was a tasting event for a South African Chardonnay by Fleur Du Cap Wines. The wine was full-bodied and delish. (With my unrefined palette) I would say there was a nice fruitiness to it and I did go back for more…and more…and more. I found out this wine sells for about thirteen bucks a bottle at the LCBO. Bargain!

I jumped a little with excitement when I started to smell scallops sizzling on a pan nearby. The event was also catered by Sliced Gourmet. Scallops and quail were on the menu and both were cooked using the featured wine. Genius…and YUM. The roasted quail was served with preserved lemon over a bed of mielie pap (a South African staple very similar to polenta) with a balsamic drizzling over top. Scallops were seared and served over puréed peas with asparagus on the side. Some may have found the quail a little awkward/difficult to eat at an event as such, but we all know I have no problem going all cave woman in public when it comes to eating food. The wine paired wonderfully with both dishes.

All in all, it was a lovely time! I brought a friend and we mingled, nibbled and sipped to our hearts content. It did get a little crowded at one point, but I didn’t mind. It was short and sweet, lasting only a couple hours; perfect for a weeknight. Leaving the wine cave, I opened its’ door only to find that the sun was still out! Those two hours seemed so much longer, thanks to the enchanting effects of no windows. It was refreshing to know the night was still young (or younger than we thought) as we headed off to dinner.

 

Homecooking Made Easy Peasy With Prepd: Toronto Launch & Giveaway!

Life, as we know it, is becoming increasingly busy. As a young professional myself, I know that time is something, it seems, we have less and less of. To make time for work, friends, family, studies and all the other little things, it seems the trend is to make sacrifices where it matters most! In what we eat! As fast food and “take-out” meals are becomingly more and more readily available to us, cooking wholesome meals at home is becoming a thing of the past. In a world of reality TV and “top chefs”, we’ve been fooled into thinking that cooking a delicious meal is something best left to the experts.

If you’re a Torontonian, as busy as a bee and guilty of slacking in the kitchen, I’ve found you a solution for making delicious, healthy meals at home without costing you your valuable time. Continue reading

Perfect Roast Chicken For Dummies

Roasting a chicken (or any bird) can be intimidating. I know you’ve heard all the horror stories of dry meat, oven fires and overcooked/under-cooked nightmares. For these reasons, I avoided roasting my own bird for years. It always seemed like a job best left to roasting experts…because “my bird will never turn out as good as theirs”.

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Chicken dummies, (And I was once one too!) I am here to tell you that you are wrong! Roasting chicken is easy! In fact, it’s one of the easiest meals to cook. The key is to keep things simple. And so, I am going to keep this post simple. Continue reading

Make Jujube Tea, Not War.

The health benefits of dates have been well-known in China for thousands of years, They are believed to cleanse and enrich the blood, enhance immunity, promote white cell formation, reduce cholesterol and protect the liver, among many other supposed gains. Dates are rich in vitamin C, calcium and iron and are believed to be therapeutic for the elderly as well as growing children and those with anemia. Red dates (hong zao in Chinese) are also known as jujubes. For more on China’s “cure-all” fruit, click here.

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I’ve been drinking red date (or jujube) tea since I was a child. It was something my mother would make for my sister and I to keep our little bodies strong. Growing up, I thought of this as some sort of magical mommy-creation. I had no idea how easy it was to make! Continue reading

It’s My Party, And We’ll Shuck ‘Cause I Want To

I don’t think it needs to be said again, but I’ll say it anyway. I love oysters. Besides the facts that make them so insanely neat, I love them, most of all, for their ability to bring friends closer together, put smiles on faces and fill (some of) us with mixed feelings of dread, wonder and respect. From childhood, oysters have been a favourite of mine and will remain on my love-list forever. They never cease to amaze me!

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Last month I turned twenty-eight. Twenty-eight on the twenty-eighth. To be more specific: my ‘champagne birthday’. I decided to plan something fun for this once-in-a-lifetime happening and, almost in the same instant, I decided that oysters had to be involved. If you know me well enough (or have thoroughly explored this blog), you know that it makes perfect sense that I would gather my friends on my birthday for a group Oyster 101 and shuckfest. All my favourite people AND oysters (AND spicy caesars) in the same place? That just can’t be beat. Nothing could make me happier than to share a bit of oyster-love with the ones I love! Also: can I really be friends with you if you don’t know a thing or two about oysters? (Kidding…sort of not, though.)

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I held my birthday oyster shucking class at Oyster Boy, (best oyster bar in Toronto!) and invited all my besties. Continue reading

Satisfaction Guaranteed: Thin, Diner-Style Patties & “Special Sauce”

There’s no denying it, whether a “sometimes” or “all-the-time” burger eater, we all love a good hamburger when the moment is right. Hamburgers can be found in countries around the world and are probably the most popular food on the planet. Toasty buns, savoury meat patty, melted cheese, dressed to your liking…comfort food doesn’t get much more comfortable. Despite the fact that I am surrounded by today’s delicious new burger joints and gourmet burger options, I tend to gravitate back towards the classic. I’m a sucker for a simple, thin, charbroiled patty on a fluffy toasted bun. There is no school like the old school, after all.

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In a burger mood one night, I experimented with trying to create a simple diner-style hamburger sandwich at home. The results were incredibly DELISH! I was always so busy adding ingredients to my ground burger-meat, that I never thought to keep it simple and use…JUST MEAT when making burgers. These thin beef patties turned out surprisingly juicy and flavourful.

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The first time around I served the patties on toasted Italian bread, for a perfect “burger sammie”. We were hooked, and these became a “quick dinner” staple at home. As word got out that my burgers were addictively yummy, I decided to have a weekend “burger party”. I was lucky enough to have a wonderfully talented friend bake homemade burger buns! (As you can see in the photos, they were perfectly baked. He even added a sprinkling of sesame seeds. A+!)

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This is my take on America’s “favourite” sandwich. For the finishing touch I mixed together a “special sauce” for my burgers, a homemade version of McDonald’s Big Mac Sauce. It’s burger-sauce-crack and will add the perfect creamy, pickle-y tang to your sandwich. I dressed my burgers with simple toppings, but you can use any dressings you like! Play it up or keep it simple. These burger sammies are perfect for lunch, dinner, a meal with friends or a late night bite! They are really quick to make, and the patties freeze well too! Continue reading

Smells Like Heaven: Easy Aromatherapy For Your Home

There is nothing better than the sweet aroma of cinnamon wafting through the air, especially in the winter months. It’s the smell of hot cider simmering on the stove, bubbling apple pie, cinnamon buns in the oven, baked spiced squash or a hot cup of milky chai. There’s something about the spicy, yet sweet, smell of cinnamon that eases the mind, warms the heart and gives us a cozy sense of welcome-ness and home.

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Here’s my favourite way to create a wonderful aroma at home. It’s as easy as lighting a scented candle, and costs much less! Continue reading

Cinnamon Rolls: Ooey Gooey Goodness

The weather outside is frightful…or becomingly so. As we enter into the cold months, I find ways in the kitchen to warm the body, heart and soul. The cold, crisp winter air chills you to the bone. There is no better comfort than to feel the warmth of the oven, watch buns bake and to have the smell of cinnamon and sugar fill your home.

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I LOVE CINNAMON ROLLS! (And it’s probably safe to say that you do too.) These sweet, sticky, oozing buns full of cinnamon flavour are something I can’t refuse. It’s a mystery why I hadn’t tried baking these sooner! The satisfaction of creating each gorgeous little bun, and perfect cinnamon swirl, is unsurpassed.

I’ve had my share of different cinnamon buns from all over the place and some are definitely better than others. A good friend of mine baked a batch last month and brought me a couple (I have the greatest friends!). I had to make them for myself, THEY WERE DELICIOUS, and so she sent me the recipe that she used. The original recipe is from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, who has a wonderful blog, great recipes and a cookbook. I made a few slight changes and cut the recipe in half, because who could eat 50 cinnamon rolls!? I mean, I could…but I wouldn’t… :) Continue reading