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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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

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

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

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

Balsamic Reduction: Make It Fancy In Minutes!

Making balsamic reduction is one of the quickest ways I can think of to spruce up your cooking. A balsamic reduction is simply the process of boiling down balsamic vinegar. The result is a wonderful syrup that can be used in sweet and savoury dishes alike. Takes only minutes to make, and can be used in so many ways.  Make the transformation from regular home chef to culinary pro!

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A simple balsamic reduction adds elegance and a beautiful sweetness to leafy greens, and goes especially well with goat cheese and pistachios or other nuts. Dress up your salad with this classic dressing! It also pairs sensationally with tomato salads or strawberries in desserts. Can be used as a thicker topping for meats, fish and vegetables, or a thinner version can be used as a glaze for fish or roasts. So versatile! A simple balsamic reduction can add oomph to any dish that uses balsamic vinegar!

It adds an AMAZING touch to a simple Italian Caprese salad, which is what you will see here in my photos. I’ve also included the Caprese salad recipe in this post. 🙂 Continue reading

A Classic Mignonette: An Oystergirl’s Best Friend

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but a girl like me would have to say that there are far better things in life than diamonds. For me, this list includes oysters. Some of the most beautiful things in the world come from the sea, a whole different world full of colours and life and secrets that will never be revealed to us. Oysters, to me, are the secrets of the ocean contained. Each beautiful shell unique and carrying the smell, the taste and the stories of the sea.

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If you don’t know by now, oysters are one of my favourite things in the world. They are not only a favourite food, they are an astoundingly complex and interesting species to study. I could spend days discussing my love for oysters and all the good they bring to this world. If you’d like to hear more about that, for the love of oysters, click here!

If you love eating these briny beauties as much as I do, you must know that going out to an oyster bar can start to get expensive. Shucking them yourself is lots of fun (if you know how) and a great money saver! I’ll seriously warn you though, please shuck carefully! You don’t want to hurt yourself! If you’re in Toronto (Ontario, Canada), I recommend contacting Oysterboy to do a shucking class! Lots to learn, and lots of fun!

Shucking your own oysters has lots of benefits! You save money, you can enjoy oysters in the comfort of your own home (or whatever environment you please) and you can impress friends and family at get togethers or family gatherings. Oysters are great for any occasion!

There’s nothing better than a freshly shucked oyster eaten as is, but I do like to play around with different flavours so I always have my go-to sauces and oyster-sidekicks available. Continue reading