Sunday, March 21, 2010

Homemade Rice Paper Wraps

I don't know about you, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE Vietnamese food!  Well, I love ALL kinds of food, but Vietnamese is truly one of my top three favourites!  I was introduced to "Pho" (Vietnamese soup) about 7 years ago by my boyfriend...he brought me right down into the heart of the city where all of the best Vietnamese food is made!  I was in love, not only with my boyfriend, but with this new type of food that I enjoyed soooo much!  Recently, I've started to also enjoy rice paper wraps!  You can make them at home which is what we did last Saturday!  It was really fun to chop all the veggies up, break up the mint sprigs, and put a little fish sauce in a shallow bowl JUST like how they do it at the restaurant!  It was a lot of fun! 

What you need:

1 package of 22cm rice paper wraps  (Y & Y Brand)
Shredded Carrots
Cut lettuce
Fresh Corriander
Fresh Mint
Cucumber, sliced thinly lengthwise
Sauteed shrimp, pork, chicken or beef
Spinach Vermicelli  (cooked)
Warm water
Fish Sauce or Peanut Sauce

Soak the rice paper wrap in warm water until soft (about 5-10 seconds).  We used a pie plate for this!
Once its soft, let the excess water drip off into the pie plate.  Start filling your wrap with all the goodies!!!  Wrap it up and seal the bottom, enjoy!!! 

There's not much else to these fresh and delicious rice paper wraps, but they are so yummy and satisfying! 


Kay's "Busy Saturday One Pot Meal" (Vegan)

Yesterday I decided I wanted to make a nice healthy, hearty meal but I was kind of short on time!  I used up some of the ingredients that fill my cupboards and vegetable crisper and this is what I came up with, I hope you try it! 

2 tbsp.  Grapeseed oil
1/2 white onion chopped
1 garlic clove, diced
4 slices of ginger, diced
1 orange pepper
1 sweet red pepper
1/2 zucchini, chopped
1 big can diced tomatoes
1 big can pureed tomatoes
2 cans water
1 1/2 cups Barley
1 19oz. can black beans, rinsed
Dash of dried bay leaf
3 baby bok choy, chopped and white parts removed
1 tsp. Curry paste
1 loaf of nice crusty bread

On medium-high heat, add the grapeseed oil to the pot.  Add the oinions, garlic and ginger and sautee until softened.  Add the orange and red peppers and zucchini, sautee for about 3 minutes. 

Add the tomatoes, water, barley, black beans and dried bay leaf.  Stir until everything is coated.  Bring to a low boil and then reduce the heat down to low-medium and add the baby bok choy and curry power.  Add any other spices you like!

Cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes or until the barley is soft and tender.

Cut a thick slice of bread and put a little bit of Earth Balance butter on it and sprinkle a seasoning of your choice and toast!  I used "Epicure Crab Dip" mix on mine!

Place the toasted bread on the bowl and serve!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

I've been waiting and waiting to purchase this book!  I was soooo excited when it came in the mail, I couldn't wait to get home and read it!  I ordered mine off instead of buying it at Chapter's and I SAVED $10!!!  YIPPEE!!!

This book is so interesting.  I love how you can 'flirt' with the idea of being 'vegan' and you don't have to feel bad if you 'fall off the wagon' just get back on again!  I think Alicia is such a good writer and I feel like I'm reading a letter from a friend, it's an easy read and she gives tons of tips on the food items.  Let's be honest, how many of us have heard of "shoyu" or "kuzu"?  Not me!  Alicia explains what the food is, what color it is and what section you might find it in your local store!  There is a great table in the book that shows what brands she likes best too!

I think there are a lot of benefits to eating a "vegan" or "vegetarian" diet, and I am excited to continue my read and learn more about it!  I CAN tell you this though, I've been doing it for about a week now and I feel GREAT!  I have more energy and I am not tired at ALL!  Fantastic!!! 

I think that's is so important to feel and look our best and I fully believe that food is the #1 factor in all of it!  Some people may think "if you don't eat meat or drink milk, how are you getting enough protien and calcium?".  In "The Kind Diet" Alicia explains that if you are eating food from the EARTH and eating plenty of legumes, beans and leafy vegetables that you are getting enough of these things and you are getting them in their purest form! 

My boyfriend is still eating meat, but over the past week I've been cooking 'vegan friendly' food and we both feel like we're not missing out on anything!  Good deal!!!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Food Inc. Documentary

I highly recommend watching this!  It really opened my eyes to what I am buying and how I am shopping in my local stores.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Easy Red Velvet Cupcakes

I know there is a huge fuss out there over 'Red Velvet Cake' so I wanted to make some Red Velvet Cupcakes for an upcoming party.  However, I felt I didn't have enough time to make them completely from scratch, so I found a recipe that calls for 'yellow cake mix' and a few extra ingredients.  THIS I had time for! 

I was a little apprehensive over how much red food coloring to add, but, just follow the recipe and you're sure to love to color! 

I also cheated with the 'cream cheese frosting ( I know, I know!).  I didn't have time to make the frosting from scratch, so I bought a jar of it instead and it tastes delicious!  I don't think anyone will even notice!  :-)


1 (18 1/4 ounce) package yellow cake mix (for a 2 layer cake)
2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
5 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
4tbsp red food coloring
Cream cheese frosting (see recipe below)

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:  (or you can buy a jar of it in the baking isle!)

1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
2 - 3 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract


1.  Set oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Line 24 regular-size muffin tins with paper or foil liners.
3.  In a large bowl beat the cake mix with baking cocoa, eggs, oil, buttermilk and food colouring for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
4.  Spoon the batter evenly between the muffin tins about two-thirds full.
5.  Bake according to package directions for cupcakes or cake.
6.  Remove from the pans immediately and cool on wire racks.
7.  Spread tops with cream cheese frosting.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My first TOFU experience

I'm not sure why I never tried tofu before, but I'm glad I decided (on a whim one day) to pick some up!  I bought the 'PC Brand' Coconut Curry Flavoured Tofu.  I wasn't clear on how to prepare it, so my boyfriend cooked it for us since he had eaten it before.  WOW!!!  I enjoyed it so much! 

We mixed it with sliced red peppers, zucchini and broccoli.  We also added (during the last 5 minutes) some spinach vermicelli noodles (cooked) and a little peanut sauce. 

QUESTION:  What's your favourite flavour/brand of tofu?  Also, what is your favourite way to eat it (i.e. stirfry's, smoothies, etc...)

~Fruit Blend~

I LOVE having PC 5-Fruit Blend on hand at all times!  It's great for quick and easy smoothies!  Mmmmm!

~White Wine~

I used to always drink red wine, until one hot summer day my Mom offered me a nice chilled glass of white wine.  I enjoyed it so much, that I've pretty much switched to white! 

Last Summer, while at an outdoor spa with my Sister...we ordered some wine and cheese in the afternoon.  She, being a red wine drinker, decided to follow my lead and order a glass of white because it was SO hot that day.  The waitress came, we tasted the wine, and we were both blown away with the flavours this wine had!  I just had to ask the waitress to write down what the wine was called.  She told me it was "Astica from Argentina".  And so the search began...not all the LCBO's carry this brand, but keep looking, it's worth it!

Fresh and rather tangy, this wine features grapefruit aromas and a zingy, fruit-filled palate. Goes well with porrk, fish, and chicken.

For only $7.45!!!  Definitely a good pick for the price!!! 

Cheers!  :-)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers with Basil Oil

I am planning on making these little appetizers for an upcoming party at my house!  It's the perfect portion, easy to grab and they aren't messy!  It's basically a caprese salad on a stick!

All you need is:
Grape Tomoatoes
Bocconcini  (bite sized mozzarella balls)
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil

I'm going to put three (3) grape tomatoes and one piece of cheese on each skewer.  For the basil oil, blend a couple of handfuls of fresh basil in a blender with enough olive oil to make it fluid and creamy.  Drizzle basil oil over top of the skewers and voila!  A nice simple appetizer!

I will let you know how it turns out!  :-)

Eat, Shrink & Be Merry!

I absolutely LOVE this recipe book!  It has amazing alternatives to high fat, high calorie foods and every recipe I've ever tried I have really enjoyed!  There are also some really fun facts about food in the book, practically on every page! 

These Sister's (Janet & Greta Podleski) also have a great show on the Food Network and they challenge restaurateurs to make their signature dishes and Janet and Greta use healthy options to create the same dish.  At the end of the show, they have people vote on which dish they liked better...most of the time the people chose the healthy option and can't tell the difference!  It's amazing!

I recommend this book to anyone who loves to cook and is looking for healthy options for their favourite recipes!

10 Tips to Healthy Eating & Physical Activity

There are a lot of 'fad' diets out there these days, but the fact is, that being healthy is a lifestyle!  There are a few simple rules that are easy to follow, and once you embrace them it'll feel like second nature!

RULE # 1Eat Breakfast
This is so important.  After not eating all night while you sleep, your body needs to be re-fuled so that you can focus at school or work and retain information.  Some ideal breakfast choices are: cereal, oatmeal, fruit, yougurt, skim or soy milk, smoothies, and homemade granola bars (see recipe

RULE # 2Get Moving
Try taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, park far away from the store you're going in to, take the dog for a walk, ride your bike!  Try and get at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day.

RULE # 3Snack Smart
Let's face it, we all hit the 3 o'clock wall at times, and it's very important to eat something healthy rather than running for the nearest vending machine.  Try to pack things such as fruits, veggies and hummus, and yogurt.  Knowing that dinner is only a couple hours away will help you to not over eat because you'll want to save room!

RULE # 4Work up a sweat
Vigorous work-outs (sweating and breathing hard) help your heart pump better, give you more energy and help you look AND feel your best!  Start by stretching your muscles, inlcude 20-30 minutes of aerobic activity (running, biking, dancing, Tae Bo, etc...) and follow up with some strength training (weights, push ups, etc...).  Be sure to include a cool down at the end which includes more stretching and deep breathing!

RULE # 5Balance your food choices - don't eat too much of one thing
You don't have to give up foods like hamburgers, french fries, and ice cream to eat healthfully. You just have to be smart about how often and how much of them you eat. Your body needs nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, fat, and many different vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C and A, iron, and calcium from a variety of foods.

RULE # 6Get fit with friends or family
Being active is much more fun with friends or family. Encourage others to join you and plan one special physical activity event per week, like a bike ride, belly dancing, zumba, volleyball, etc...

RULE # 7Eat more Grains, Fruits & Veggies
These foods give you carbohydrates for energy, plus vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Besides, they taste good! Try breads such as whole-wheat, bagels, and pita. Spaghetti and oatmeal are also in the grain group.

RULE # 8Join physical activities in your neighbourhood
If you look at your local Activity guide, you'll be able to find all sorts of activities that you can join.  Things like Zumba (as mentioned above) is great because it's an aerobic dance class, Volleyball, baseball & cross-country skiing are all fabulous ways to get out there an exercise without even knowing it!

RULE # 9Foods aren't good OR bad
A healthy eating style is like a puzzle with many parts. Each part, or food, is different. Some foods may have more fat, sugar or salt, while others may have more vitamins or fibre. There is a place for all these foods. What makes a diet good or bad is how foods fit together. Balancing your choices is important. Fit in a higher-fat food, like pepperoni pizza, at dinner by choosing lower-fat foods at other meals. And don't forget about moderation. If two pieces of pizza fill you up, don't eat a third.

RULE # 10Make healthy eating and Physical activity fun
Take advantage of physical activities you and your friends enjoy doing together and eat the foods you like. Be adventurous - try new sports, games, and other activities as well as new foods. You'll grow stronger, play longer, and look and feel better! Set realistic goals - don't try changing too much at once.

*Rules taken from

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Fruit & Oat Granola Bars

I like a quick & healthy breakfast during the week before I go to work.  I began to search for a healthy homemade granola bar that I could make and here's what I found!  It was really simple to make and they taste great (also low in fat)!  After they cooled I bagged them individually for easy grabbing!


1 egg
1 egg white
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup toasted oats
2/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped (I used Craisins)
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread oats on a baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 18 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant.

2. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Line an 8-by-11-inch pan with foil. Lightly oil or coat with nonstick spray.

3. In a large bowl, whisk egg, egg white, brown sugar, oil, cinnamon, salt and vanilla extract. Stir in toasted oats, dried cranberries, pecans and flour.

4. Spread in prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool; cut into bars with a lightly oiled knife.

Servings 16 bars
(based on individual servings)

Calories: 130
Total Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Sodium: 50 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Protein: 2 g

**Originally published in
Read more:

Friday, January 29, 2010

Soy Milk

I have never been a big milk fact, I hate it (with the exception of chocolate milk, of course!), however, I LOVE Soy Milk!  Normally I drink the "So Good" brand (vanilla), but last night I bought "Silk Organic Soy Milk" (plain) for a change and I was pleasently surprised!  It was amazing!  I'll be adding this to my next smoothie for sure!

**QUESTION**  Has anyone ever had "Rice Milk"?

Oatmeal with Honey & Blueberries

Oatmeal always seems to make it's way back into my morning breakfast ritual among the Winter months.  There is just something about a warm bowl of oatmeal that screams "comfort".  Oats are low on the Glycemic Index, which means they keep you feeling fuller longer, reduce the risk of heart disease and improve blood cholesterol levels, just to name a few.  It's low in fat and high in fiber and protein!


1/3 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup water, skim milk or soy milk
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (or any berry you like)
1 tsp. honey


1.  Pour water on the oats in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 1 minute.
2.  Stir oatmeal and add blueberries and honey.
3.  Let stand for a minute to thicken


I like using blueberries because 1/2 cup holds 1.5g of fiber and they are extremely rich in antioxidants.  
**You can add cinnamon, jam and nuts to your oatmeal for variety!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Vegan Lentil & Black Bean Soup

This is my new favourite soup to make!  It's super easy and has so much flavour!  It's also extremely healthy with only 1.6g of Fat per serving and it's a good source of protein!  :-)

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 large celery stalk, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 cup green lentils, rinsed and picked through
2 15-ounce cans reduced-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups fat-free, low-sodium vegetable broth  (I usually use 2 boxes of vegetable broth and 1 can of vegetable broth as well.  I find if you add a little more broth it keeps better in the fridge)

In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat. Sauté onions, celery, and garlic until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle cumin and chili powder, cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add lentils, black beans, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 25 minutes, or until lentils are tender. 

** I usually break a few pieces of ACE Multi-grain Artsian Crisps into my soup and a few dashes of Cooksville hot sauce (

Per Serving: Calories 127, Calories from Fat 14, Total Fat 1.6g (sat 0.1g), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 503mg, Carbohydrate 22.2g, Fiber 7.1g, Protein 6g

Ham and Scalloped Potatoes (Crock pot)

I love crockery cooking! When I first moved out on my own I soon realized that I was now in charge of cooking for myself 7 days a week.  Eeeek!  I wanted to make sure I didn't get bored of eating the same old stuff  all the time; this is when I  began to look through cook books on Saturday morning's and essentially what sparked my interest in food and cooking.  Eventually, I stumbled upon this Ham and Scalloped Potatoes recipe ...but, I didn't have a crock pot!  So, I borrowed my Mom's (who is a wonderful cook/baker) and decided to give it a shot!  WOW!  It was delicious, easy and everyone loved it.  I wanted to try one more recipe before handing over the crock pot back to my Mom...however, she had a feeling she'd never get it back (don't Mother's know best?), so she went out and bought herself another one and said I was able to keep hers and I've been using it year round ever since!  It's a staple kitchen item in my books!  (I was going to give the crock pot back, for the record).  ;-)

This is a fantastic weeknight meal!  Just a few simple ingredients and yet so flavourful!  Add a side salad or serve with nice buns and that's all there is to it! 


6-8 slices of ham
8-10 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup grated cheddar or American cheese
1 can cream of celery or mushroom soup


Put half of ham, potatoes and onions in crock pot.  Sprinle with salt and pepper, then grated cheese.  Repeat with remaining hlaf.  Spoon undiluted soup over top.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours in crock pot or high for 4 hours. 

**  The photo shows cubed ham, please disregard.  Follow recipe and 'slice' it.

Honey-Mustard Pecan Chicken Thighs


1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground red pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
16 skin on and bone in chicken thighs (I took the skin off)  NOTE:  You can use boneless-skinless thighs, but it's a lot more expensive AND they are smaller so you'd want to get about 32pcs in that case.
1 1/2 cup honey divided
1 1/2 cup Dijon mustard divided
4 cloves garlic minced
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon curry powder
Italian parsley sprigs, for garnish


1.  Combine first four ingredients. Sprinkle evenly over chicken in a shallow dish. Stir together 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup mustard and garlic. Pour over chicken. Cover and chill 2 hours.
2.  Remove chicken from marinade discarding marinade. Dredge chicken in pecans. Place on a lightly greased wrack in a aluminum foil lined broiler pan. Bake at 375degrees for 40 minutes or until chicken is done. (I placed aluminum foil lightly on top of the chicken about 15 minutes in to cooking time because I didn't want the pecans to burn...but, you can judge for yourself)

Stir together remaining honey, mustard and curry powder. Serve sauce with chicken. Garnish if desired.

**  I didn't use the remaining honey-mustard sauce because once I took the chicken out of the oven it looked so perfect and delicious I didn't want to ruin it with a dipping sauce, it really didn't need anything!

Citrus - White Chocolate Macaroons

These are DELISH!  I used to be afraid to make macaroons, I thought they seemed difficult for some reason, but these are super easy! 


1 (14 ounce) package flake coconut
3 (1 ounce) squares Baker's Premium White Baking Chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon almond extract  (I used vanilla)
1 (1 ounce) square Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted
1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2.  Combine coconut, white chocolate, sugar, flour and salt in large bowl. Add egg whites, lemon peel and almond extract; mix well.
3.  Drop by tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto lightly greased and floured baking sheets.
4.  Bake 20 min. or until edges are golden brown. Immediately remove from baking sheets to wire racks. Cool completely. Drizzle with the melted chocolate.

Makes about 18 cookies

Mile High Coconut Cream Pie

I had never made a pie until December 2009. Since then, I have made several pecan pies and most recently a coconut cream pie! I never would have thought to make a coconut cream pie, until I was speaking with my Mom about how many Pecan Pie's I had made in the last month and I thought it was time to try something else. She suggested making one of her favourites...Coconut Cream!

So, I found a recipe that I thought sounded easy AND delicious...and boy was it ever! I would recommend trying this recipe out! It was AMAZING!


1 9" deep dish pie crust
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 eggs
2tsp. vanilla
1 cup 35% whipping cream

2tbsp. toasted flaked sweetened coconut (I used about 4tbsp!)

1.  Bake pie shell according to package or recipe directions. Let cool.
2.  In saucepan, heat milk and coconut over medium heat until steaming. In a large bowl, whisk 1/2 cup sugar with cornstarch; whisk in eggs until blended. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into egg mixture in a thin, steady stream. Return to saucepan.
3.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 10 minutes or until thickened to pudding consistency. Transfer to bowl; stir in vanilla. Place plastic wrap directly on surface; refrigerate until cool.
4.  In a bowl, using electric mixer, whip whipping cream with remaining sugar to form soft peaks. Set 1 1/2 cups whipped cream aside (for the topping). Fold remaining cream into cooled filling; spread into pie shell. 5.  Garnish top with reserved whipping cream (you can use a piping bag with a star tip, or a spoon...I used a flexible spatula). Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until set, or up to 1 day.

Recipe by: Christine Cushing

Baked Brie with Cranberries & Almonds

I recently got into Brie Cheese dishes and so far, this one is my absolute favourite!

Serve with sliced baguette or small Melba toast rounds and the crowd will devour this!

  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) dried cranberries (Craisins)

  • 20 ml (4 tsp) almond flavoured liqueur, such as Amaretto

  • 3 tbsp sliced almonds

  • 1 – 225g (8 oz) round Brie cheese (Prepared)

  • 1 French baguette, sliced thinly and toasted on both sides, under the oven broiler

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F)

Remove top rind of cheese, leaving rind on sides and bottom in tact. Place brie, cut side up, in Brie Baker.

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the dried cranberries & liqueur. Microwave for about 20 seconds. Top prepared Brie evenly with marinated cranberries and sliced almonds. Place Brie Baker, without putting the lid on, in center of hot oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven (with oven mitts) & put Brie Baker cover on Baker to keep baked brie warm and soft until ready to serve. Place hot Brie Baker on a serving platter and surround with toasted baguette slices. Remove lid just before eating.