Sloppy Vanessas From Scratch

Sloppy Joes are most certainly on my list of foods that make my tummy smile. Eating hot, saucy beef slopped down on a bun is the best. I also love the amazing fun in trying to scoop the sandwich up … Continue reading

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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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

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

Homemade Chinese Fish Balls…The Way They Should Be Made

Fish balls are a staple in many Asian homes. In Hong Kong they are a popular street food. There are as many fish ball stands in Hong Kong as there are hot dog stands in North America. They can be eaten on their own, fried, boiled, with noodles, in curry, in hot pots, on skewers, barbecued or any way you can think of cooking them! All ways are delicious!

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As delicious as they are, it shocked me when I looked into what ingredients were used in most store-bought and restaurant-served fish balls. If you read my earlier fish ball post, you’ll recall all the details. If you missed it, you can check it out by clicking here. It also includes a recipe for a healthy alternative to the traditional Asian fish balls (crispy pan-fried fish balls).

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I’ve received a lot of comments and requests for me to post a recipe for homemade, traditional, Chinese fish balls. So, as I promised a few months ago, I did some research and tried it out on my own. Making your own fish balls, or fish paste, obviously takes more time and effort than opening a frozen package from the store, but it’s definitely worth the effort if you want your food fresh, preservative-free and without added fillers in the ingredients. Continue reading

Autumn Apple Maple French Toast

Fall is such a gorgeous season. The weather begins to cool and leaves begin to turn wondrous shades of red, orange and yellow. I wake to a crisp, still morning air and fall asleep under warm, toasty covers. Each deep autumn breath carries the faint aroma of hot apple cider and warm cinnamon. It’s a season of harvest, coziness and sweaters; a season of warm ovens and warmer hearts. Each day is full of rich colour and the smell of hot bubbling pies, freshly baked and ready to be devoured.

This is my first official fall post this year and a perfect time to share this amazing apple brunch creation I made yesterday. I went apple picking near Collingwood, Ontario last week with my family and brought back a half bushel of McIntosh and Cortland apples with me. I’ve been spending the past few days thinking of ways to use them all. The funniest part about this is that I am slightly allergic to apples so I don’t really eat them myself (once in a while, if I can’t resist).

The classic French toast I was going to make on a Saturday afternoon, became something so much more delicious…and pretty. I took a couple of my fresh-picked apples and made apple maple French toast. Sauteing apples in butter and maple syrup turns them into a sweet, warm, caramelized apple topping to spoon over vanilla cinnamon French toast. Continue reading

Indonesian Chicken Soup For The Mind, Body and Soul

We all have our bad days. Days where you have too many questions and not enough answers. Days when your mind feels full and empty at the same time. Days when you’re sick, tired, or both. Sometimes we need a moment to see the light; something to intervene our thoughts. A great intervention: chicken soup. Soup is an amazing answer to any question, no matter how big or small. It can be an equally good addition to a good day, cold day, lazy day or busy day all the same. Soup clears your mind, fills your insides, warms your heart and brings a smile to your face.

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“Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup.”
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

It may be my Asian upbringing, but there is nothing better than a hot bowl of noodles and soup. The breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions! The best soup noodles are homemade. You take the time to make a delicious broth and the rest comes easily. The noodles take no time at all, and you can quickly add simple toppings. I make batches of broths to freeze. That way, there’s always a bowl of hot noodle soup waiting to be made in a flash. Continue reading

Lobster Linguine With Saffron & Cream

I almost jump at every opportunity to use saffron in my cooking. I have an unexplained love for it’s delicate strands, gorgeous colour, and subtle earthy flavour. Saffron is harvested from the Crocus sativus flower, a member of the Iris family. Cultivated for thousands of years in Asia Minor, it is used in perfumes, dyes, medicine and, of course, for its wonderful flavour in food and drinks. There’s something so beautiful about the deep maroon shade of the strands and the rich golden yellow that comes from the tip of the thread (from which the saffron spice is derived.) It makes me smile from the inside out. 🙂

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“According to Greek mythology, handsome mortal Crocos fell in love with the beautiful nymph Smilax. But alas, his favors were rebuffed by Smilax, and he was turned into a beautiful purple crocus flower.” (about.com)

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Here is the crocus flower that saffron comes from. So pretty!

This dinner all began with a request for lobster tagliatelle. I didn’t know where to begin, so I began where I always do…the recipe hunt. I was looking for simple recipes that required ingredients I already had at home. (Minus the lobster of course.) I found a few seafood tagliatelle recipes that I liked, but stuck with this one as a guideline, making my own alterations here and there based on what I wanted to make and the ingredients I had available at home. The result was a lobster linguine in a light creamy sauce. Delicious! Continue reading

Keep It Simple, Silly! Simple Crepes For Any Occasion

Since I was a child, crepes have been one of my favourite desserts. I loved how sweet and egg-y my mother used to make them. I’d eat them faster than she could make them, and I wouldn’t stop eating until she stopped flipping them off the pan onto my plate. I’ve now come to realize, after having tried so many savoury crepes, that they don’t always have to be sweet. These delicate pancakes are simple, easy to make and extremely versatile. You can use any toppings you like! Sweet or savoury!

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I had a crepe craving last night and now that I don’t live with the legendary crepe-making mama, I decided to figure out how to make them (or something like them) on my own. I discovered that they are easier than I thought! The beauty of a crepe is in its simplicity. Simple ingredients and simple preparation. Sometimes enjoying something as simple as a plain sweet crepe is just what you need.  Continue reading