Wrap & Roll! Learn To Rice-Paper-Wrap Anything And Everything.

I get a lot of requests for easy, quick and healthy recipes. Here’s a recipe that can’t get any easier or quicker, and can be super duper healthy! These were inspired by Vietnamese rice paper spring rolls and can be 100% vegan or vegetarian-friendly if you want them to be. If you’ve ever tried Vietnamese food, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

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Rice paper wraps are my best friend. They’re so quick and easy to use and they don’t cost much at all! Rice paper is like thin, steamed rice crepes that have been dried out into thin, hard, round sheets. You dampen the sheets, one by one, in warm water and you’re ready for wrapping! They get nice and sticky and adhere to themselves to make a gorgeous fresh roll in one step. They’re also much healthier than fried spring rolls. Continue reading

Oatmeal Chocolate Cranberry Cookies!

Oatmeal cookies have always been a favourite of mine. But what’s better than oatmeal cookies? Oatmeal, chocolate chip, craisin cookies!

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I thought I’d post this recipe because these cookies have become a staple in our home. I’ve been making them non-stop for a few years now. There’s always a jar full of oatmeal cookies. I often get a friendly reminder that we’re down to the last two or three cookies. That means: make more, cookie maker!

Oats are also good for you! Click here to check out some of the health benefits of eating oats. 🙂

I think this started out as just an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. It was one of those recipes you scribble down on a piece of paper and stuff into a cookbook for safe-keeping. It’s a classic, and I’ve used it time and time again. I started playing around with the chocolate chips, replacing them with other ingredients. My usual mix is chocolate chips, raisins and craisins, but it all works. Make these your own! You can try to incorporate other dried fruits or different chips. Semi-sweet chocolate chips work best though, I think.

Oatmeal cookies are nice and easy to make too! This recipe is great for all my first-time bakers. There’s absolutely nothing to fear! The worst thing you could do is burn them, so just keep an eye out and you’ll be fine! Continue reading

All You Need Is Love…And Taco Nights.

Nothing cures a…well, ANYTHING…better than a taco night! If you’re looking for an easy, quick and fun meal, tacos are a great idea. Meat (or meat alternative), shells, toppings, DONE! They’re quick to make and probably even quicker to eat, if you get as hungry and excited as I do.

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Taco nights have always been a guilty pleasure of mine…until I started realizing there was no reason for me to feel guilty. I had the idea, for years, that tacos were unhealthy. Totally not the case! What is a concern is the trans-fats that some store-bought taco shells contain. Many are made using hydrogenated soybean oil. There are ways around this! Some brands are better than others, check out the labels at your grocery store or try visiting your local health food store or organic grocery aisle for healthier options. You can even use soft tortillas or wraps. Continue reading

Gluten-Free Avocado Brownies: A Healthier Brownie Recipe

This is a recipe for the chocolate addicts, the bakers, the health-conscious eaters, the avocado lovers, and my non-gluten-eating friends. Despite the fact that I called these avocado brownies, these are regular brownies, that taste amazing. They’re not green, and the gluten-free aspect doesn’t change the texture or the taste of them. I know sometimes gluten-free baking results in a weird taste or texture you might not be used to, or like. I can assure you. These brownies are yummy!

Confession: I couldn’t wait for mine to cool before devouring…so it didn’t come too nicely out of the pan. (Note the giant holes.) It still tasted the great! 🙂

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Continue reading

Shucking Up A Storm!

You may think it’s a waste of time and money to take an oyster shucking class, and that your pry-it-open-with-a-screwdriver, smash-it-with-a-hammer, or stab-yourself-in-the-hand methods are working just fine, but I’d say learning the proper way is totally worth it.

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Last weekend I took an oyster shucking class at Oyster Boy. It was so much fun. Eating oysters can be quite an expensive hobby. If you’re an oyster lover like me, I’m sure you already know this. Shucking your own oysters is a great skill to have. You can save money by buying your oysters at the market or from a wholesaler and shucking them yourself. But, I’m a believer in doing things the right way, which is why I wanted to learn to shuck from the experts. Impress your friends with gorgeously shucked oysters, that aren’t full of grit/sand.

The classes at Oyster Boy happen every weekend (Saturday and Sunday from 11:00-1:00). Each class holds 8-12 people and each shucker receives Continue reading

Lobster Mac And Cheese: THE BEST You’ll Ever Have.

Macaroni and cheese. Classic comfort food. I’ve had it over and over again throughout my life. There are some nights when you just crave that gooey, cheesy pasta…and tonight was one of those nights for me. I rummaged through cookbooks and looked online to find out where to begin. I had lobster tails in the freezer and right away thought, “LOBSTER MAC AND CHEESE!”. I ended up picking out an Emeril seafood mac and cheese recipe to guide me.

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I’ve had only a few really good macaroni and cheese experiences in my life. I find I’m often disappointed with what I am served at restaurants. I get so excited at the table when I see lobster, or crab, or truffle mac and cheese on the menu. The excitement builds until my food arrives, and then I’m usually let down by the not-as-glorious-as-I-thought-it-would-be dish of pasta. Continue reading

Seriously Delicious Homemade Pizza: Easiest Recipe Ever!

When the moon hits your eye like this homemade pizza pie, it’s gonna be some serious amore. I promise.

I use a whole wheat pita for the crust. You might think this sounds crazy, but give it a chance! These are the fastest super-yummiest thin-crust pizzas I’ve ever made! And it’ll take you less time than it takes to call for delivery…and taste better.

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I had this brilliant idea a couple years ago, and I haven’t stopped making these pizzas since. The best thing about them is that you can customize them to your own liking. Put anything on them! Get creative!  There are no limits to the yummy creations you can make. You can make them as healthy (or not healthy) as you like. You can even use gluten-free pitas/ingredients, or make them vegan. You just pile the toppings on a pita, and bake in the oven.

The result: A deliciously crispy thin crust anything-you-like-on-it pizza pie. You’ll be super impressed, along with whoever’s eating them with you. My non-pizza-eating mother has even started eating these when I make them.

Get your toppings, and hop to it!

Easy Thin Crust Pizza

*Use gluten-free or vegan-friendly ingredients to make this work for you*

Ingredients:

  • Pita bread. Large or small. Each pita makes one pizza, so use as many as you want to make. I use the thinner, drier, whole wheat pitas that can open into a pocket, as opposed to the moister, more dough-y pitas.
  • Pizza sauce. You can buy pizza sauce, or make your own, any tomato sauce will probably work fine.
  • Cheese. I usually use mozzarella, this time around I used a blend of mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan. Play around with other cheeses as toppings too!
  • Toppings!!!

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line baking trays with parchment paper and lay your pitas down on top. If you’re using smaller pitas you can probably fit two pitas on one tray.

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3. Spread a THIN layer of sauce over your pita. I use a spoon. **Make sure you dont over do it. Just a thin layer is enough, or your pizza will be soggy.**

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4. Cheese it up! Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella (or whatever cheese you’re using) over top.

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5. Lay your toppings on.

6. Add a bit more cheese as a finishing touch if you think your pizza needs it. If I’m going to use a different cheese as a topping, like a blue cheese or brie, this is when I do it.

7. Put the pizzas in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until you can see that it’s starting to brown and get a bit crispy around the edges. You don’t want a soggy pizza, so if it still looks wet, leave it for a bit longer. I trust you, you know what a ready pizza looks like! Sometimes I put the broiler on at the end for a couple minutes, just to get the cheese a little golden. 🙂

I made a broccoli & aged cheddar pizza, veggie pizza with zucchini, red onion, garlic, green pepper, arugula & spinach, jerk chicken pizza with mushrooms, garlic & red onion, and my meat pizza had pepperoni, hot salami, olives, garlic, mushrooms, & green peppers. (Incase you’re wondering what’s in the pictures.)

Here are some toppings I’ve used to help you get thinking:

  • zucchini
  • tomato
  • arugula
  • spinach
  • mushrooms
  • peppers
  • olives
  • garlic
  • basil
  • anchovies
  • jalapeno peppers
  • banana peppers
  • onion (red or white)
  • capers
  • broccoli
  • brie cheese
  • blue cheese
  • feta cheese
  • chicken
  • prosciutto
  • pepperoni/spicy salami
  • sausage
  • ground beef
  • You can even use leftover meat from a previous meal (roasted chicken, bbq chicken, steak). I’ve done jerk chicken pizzas a bunch of times.

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Cowabunga dudes! xx

Soupe A L’oignon: That’s French For Delicious!

Oh gosh, where do I begin? I love French onion soup. It was love at first taste. Onions, croutons, and Swiss cheese are put into a little pot of steaming-hot goodness. I always begin by battling the mountain of bubbling cheese melted over top, trying to get a spoonful to my mouth without cheese strings hanging down my chin. (French onion cheese beard, not a good look.) Once I’ve made a path through the cheese and bread, it’s a mix of eating soup, onions, bread, and cheese until it’s all gone.

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“You will find this to be a more oniony soup than the usual kind but, as the cross old lady said when a stranger told her that her slip was showing, “I like it that way.”  ~Margaret Yardley Potter

I don’t know why it took me so long to think of trying to create this at home, but I finally did. And guess what, IT’S SUPER EASY!

Onion soups have been popular since…forever. They’ve been said to have been made as far back as in ancient Roman times. Onions were readily available, and easy to grow. Today, you can buy a whole bag of onions for two bucks! I read, over and over again, that the key to an amazing onion soup is TIME. The longer you cook your onions, the sweeter and more flavourful your soup will be. I found a ton of recipes with onion cooking times ranging from 20 minutes to 2 hours. So I killed two birds with one stone: let the onions cook while I took a nice long bubble bath. 🙂 P.S. You’re going to smell onions…everywhere…but it’s going to be wonderful!

I love using recipes that can easily be made vegetarian/vegan friendly or gluten-free. Classic French onion soup is made using beef broth or a combination of both chicken broth and beef broth (each made on its own, and then combined). There is flour, bread, and cheese in this recipe. However, I’ve noted substitutions you can make for a few of the ingredients to make this soup work for you.

French Onion Soup

* I used long cooking times, which makes for a really wonderful soup. However, this can be done in less time. If you’re pressed for time, you can experiment with cooking the onions for less time, and you can cut the soup-simmering time as well. But taking the extra time is definitely worth the wait. Your soup will taste amazing!

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of onions (I bought a 3lb bag at the store)
  • 6 tablespoons butter (3/4 of a stick) (Vegan version: use olive oil or vegan butter/margarine)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 cups beef broth (Vegan/vegetarian version: use veggie broth)
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour (Gluten-free version: use potato flour or other flour of your choice)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)
  • French baguette (or bread of choice…I used an old baguette that had gotten kind of hard.) (Gluten-free version: use gluten-free bread)
  • Swiss or Gruyere cheese (or both) (Vegan version: skip the cheese or try using vegan cheese)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

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1. Peel onions and thinly slice, about 1/8-inch thick.

2. Melt butter in a large stockpot. Add onions and cook on low heat, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours. The long cooking time make the onions mellow and sweet and give your soup more flavour.

3. Stir in pepper, paprika, and bay leaf. Saute for about 10 minutes.

4. Add flour to onions and stir until mixed well.

5. Pour the beef broth and wine into the pot. Add salt. Increase heat and bring to a boil.

6. Reduce heat and simmer slowly for about 2 hours. Have a little taste and add more salt or pepper, if needed.

The soup part is done! Have some right away or refrigerate overnight and serve tomorrow!

I ladled my soup into 1 cup servings and froze them in the freezer for a convenient way to have a bowl whenever I like. 🙂

Serving French Onion Soup:

*Warm it up before you pour into the bowls. I served my soup right after I had made it, so it was still hot. I don’t know if 5 minutes under the broiler will completely heat up the soup while the cheese is melting. This way you can be sure your soup will be steaming hot.

1. Pour your soup into ovenproof crocks or bowls. There are the classic French onion soup bowls with the little arms, but anything ovenproof will do. The only things I had that were the right size were ramekins, so I used those.

2. (Adding the parmesan is optional. I happened to have a bit in the fridge, so I sprinkled it over my soup for some extra cheesiness.)

3. Top with a slice of toasted bread or croutons. Slice some bread, brush with olive oil (can sprinkle with sea salt, maybe add some garlic) and toast in the oven. I used a baguette from two nights before that had hardened. This soup is a great way to use up old bread. 🙂

*If you’re doing a vegan version without cheese, this is where it ends… the soup is delicious on it’s own or topped with a yummy slice of toasted bread. 🙂

4. Now for the cheese. Sprinkle grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese, or a mixture of both, over your bowl of soup. Be generous! The more cheese, the yummier.

5. Stick your bowls in the oven under the broiler for about 5 minutes, until the cheese melts and starts to bubble.

Be careful taking the bowls out of the oven.

Get out your spoons, and enjoy!!! xx

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Roasted Tomato, Leek, and Fennel Soup

Soup is one of the good things in life. It warms our tummies and our souls. Each hot spoonful eases our minds and comforts us, embracing us with all its deep, rich, flavours. Soup is like a loving hug from the inside out. I’ve come to love all soups, in all the flavours and textures they come in.

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This a perfect day to post a soup recipe. I’m sick in bed with my sick-day crew: laptop, Puffs Plus Lotion tissues, and a cup of tea. I came across this recipe a couple weeks ago on deliciousness (re)visited and tried it out last night. It was the perfect recipe to test out while feeling under the weather because it’s simple and doesn’t require too much work (my perma-headache isn’t allowing too much brainwork). Continue reading

Spicy Creole Shrimp

This is a really quick, really simple, really tasty, really spicy, recipe. I LOVE spicy food, but I know that not everyone does, so I’m giving you the warning now: spice alert! That being said, you can adjust the recipe however you like to make it work for you. A simple solution: use less cayenne pepper and don’t add the deathly pepper from hell!

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While I’ve sadly never been to New Orleans myself, although we’re planning a possible trip in JUNE! (Excitement!), I can certainly appreciate the wonderful flavours that it has to offer the food world. Creole cooking involves a beautiful mix of everything I love. If you’ve never tried this southern deliciousness, it’s hard for me to put into words. Creole cuisine is a combination of Caribbean, African, French, and Spanish flavour influences. Hot pepper, seafood, butter, citrus, tomato, onion, celery, rice, bean explosion of taste! It’s real comfort food.

Anyway, this is a quick recipe I found from a blog called Tummy Travels. I tried it with my tiger shrimp last weekend as part of a huge seafood feast I unintentionally put together. I wouldn’t say it’s a classic Shrimp Creole. I think that involves more veggies, a tomato base, a nice saucy gravy-ness and it’s traditionally served over rice. This shrimp could be a main served with French bread or a good addition to any meal. It’s got nice Southern flavour and a good kick to it!

Cooking shrimp makes me think of Bubba from the movie Forrest Gump (hope you’ve seen it). Bubba knows a million ways shrimp, “the fruit of the sea”, can be cooked. I love this clip! 🙂

The tiger shrimp I used were headless, but I cooked them with the shells on. Heads on, ever better! You can find whole shrimps at most Asian grocery stores if you don’t see any at your usual store or market. Cooking shrimp with the heads and shell intact add so much more flavour! All the juices are kept inside. In New Orleans, crawfish and shrimp are always cooked whole. The best part is pulling off the heads and sucking all the delicious juices and seasonings out of there before eating the rest of it. I know the heads freak some people out, but they’re delicious, I promise. In my half-Asian household, I grew up eating shrimps with heads. My sister and I discovered the next best thing to press-on nails…wearing the pointy/spiky shrimp head shells on our finger tips. It kept us entertained, and super stylish, at family dinners. (Cute…minus the shrimpy fingers afterwards.)

Spicy Creole Shrimp

Ingredients:
The spicy stuff is optional…switch it up to keep things at the spice level you want.
This recipe called for 8 tablespoons of butter (a whole stick). I cut the butter amount in half. I didn’t want to go too butter crazy, but by all means, use more butter. More butter = more sauce, and a richer sauce.

  • 1- 1 1/2 pounds shrimp (I recommend doing them with shells and heads, but you can do headless, or peeled if you like)
  • ~1/2 – 1 tablespoon olive oil, to saute garlic
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon (my large lemon gave about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 habanero or scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
  • 4-5 tablespoons butter (just cut butter into cubes and keep cold)
  • Sea salt, to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a pan, add garlic, and saute until garlic has softened.

2. Add all other ingredients except butter and shrimp. Allow this mixture to reduce for a couple minutes on medium heat. There wasn’t too much liquid and it reduced quite quickly. Don’t let it burn!

3. Add your shrimp into the pan, cooking one side and then flipping to cook the other. Two minutes on each side should be sufficient. The shrimps are cooked when they turn pink.

4. Turn to low heat and begin slowly incorporating cubes of butter.

5. When well mixed you should have a gorgeously rich, amber, shrimp creation.

6. Plate and serve!

Enjoy! xx