Friday: The Socialite

City of Guelph - City of Guelph

We are taking another night drive tonight, and the destination is Guelph. Guelph is a city in the province of Ontario, that was founded in 1879. The city is approximately one hour away from Toronto, and sits along the banks of the Speed River. Guelph is best known for its limestone architecture, cultural diversity, and high standard of living. Home of the University of Guelph, the school houses nearly 30,000 students every year, and the popular Veterinary Medicine program ranks fourth best in the world.

The city is vintage enough to take some really amazing photos! Taking in history through a lens can be quite the learning experience, and not to mention, an extraordinary story to tell.

U of G spent $600K to refresh school's branding, without taking ...

I’m ready to head out tonight, just to see the sights of what Guelph has to offer. We are piling the kids up in the car, doing a Tim Hortons run on the way to our big Friday night adventure! The children are pumped, and I am ready for the drive. I hope you all find a great place to discover tonight. Enjoy yourselves and be safe. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday: What’s Baking?

Preserving Berries: How to Freeze Fresh Fruit | Farm Flavor

Ready…set…go! The berry season is winding down, and we need to get out there and pick for jams, pies and whatever else that may tickle our fancy! Berries are a beautiful thing if you pick them in season, and there is nothing better than a fresh, juicy mouthful on a hot summer day. Of course we know there are benefits to having them in our diet. They are loaded with antioxidants to help keep our immune systems strong, they help to fight inflammation, and they also lower cholesterol levels, just to name a few. However, there is also an advantage to cooking or baking berries, as some of the nutrients are easier to absorb in the body.

A win-win situation all the way around! So, of course, I’ve taken the liberty of finding a berry recipe that I know you will enjoy. Now, I can’t promise you the calories are as beneficial as the nutrients, but I will suggest that you partake in modesty;)

Blueberry cobbler in a white bowl with a spoon and vanilla ice cream on top.

Blueberry Cobbler

Ingredients

  • 4 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the batter:

  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Slice butter into pieces and add to a 9×13 inch baking dish. Place the pan in the oven while it preheats, to allow the butter to melt. Once melted, remove the pan from the oven.
  • Add blueberries, sugar and zest to a bowl and stir to combine.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the batter ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk, just until combined.
  • Pour blueberries over melted butter in pan. Drizzle batter over the top. Sprinkle with a little bit of cinnamon.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. 
  • Serve warm, with a scoop of ice cream, if desired!

*Recipe taken from tastesbetterfromscratch.com

Nothing goes better with cobbler than a great vanilla ice cream! Am I right? If you go so far to find that perfect ice cream, you know you will have to invite the company to enjoy it with you. I am willing to be your guinea pig if you need a trial run;) Until next time, happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

Vintage kitchens are a snapshot of life in more simpler times, with a lived-in feeling that adds warmth to any dish prepared. Storing utensils and spices on countertops made cooking a cinch, and also gave your guest a good sense of your culinary abilities. The sweet smell of pies in the oven, and worn recipe books on stands takes you back to a life we can all remember. The motto for kitchens today is, “the less the better,” with stainless steel appliances, and sleek cabinetry. They are fancy, but lack character, making them a dime a dozen.

I write all this to inspire those who are passionate about vintage character, to consider sprucing up their kitchen by customizing the pantry door. Repurposing an old screen door with some paint, and a creative idea, you can make an ordinary kitchen, the talk of the town.

Go wild with primary colours, or keep it conservative and elegant, but any way you slice it, it will be a gorgeous addition to your kitchen. The doors could roll with a built in track, or be hinged to the frame. I much prefer the doors you can see through, as it shows off the inside of the pantry, using the screen as a pretty frame. The measurements for hinged doors must be precise so that they fit seamlessly into the frame. That way, the screen looks as though it was meant for the opening. There could be a little more flexibility in a “barn door” style, as it only has to cover the pantry’s opening.

I found this idea on Pinterest, and I instantly fell in love! You could have fun with the hardware, or even stencil words or phrases on to the surface. Anything is possible when you use your imagination! I hope you will be inspired to take on the challenge to give your kitchen that unique appeal. Putting your special stamp on your home recreates the memories, and unveils the real you. Have a good one, and happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday: What’s for Dinner?

Good luck to rub the Buddha belly | Buddha, Maitreya buddha, Happy buddha

Today I thought I would investigate the origin of “Buddha Bowls”, and why they have become such a popular trend in the culinary world. The bowl represents a plentiful amount that resembles the Buddha’s belly. The idea of a bowl to fill that belly is almost comical if you ask me! It is a one-dish meal consisting of a carb, veggies, and protein. Buddha bowls are commonly vegan, so the protein portion would consist of beans or tofu. The representation of fresh and clean foods in this dish ties in with ancient Chinese and Japanese medecine. The concept of raw and/or simply prepared ingredients falls in line with the ancient asian principles of keeping the body and mind healthy, and energetic.

Understanding all of this, it only makes sense to consider the option including of a nutritious Buddha bowl into a dinner this week. Learning how to prepare fresh and fast meals will be your ticket to a long life, filled with vitality! Fast, clean meals are your friend when it comes to quick dinner fixes, so keep this recipe on hand:

Turmeric Chickpea Buddha Bowl - The Kitchen Girl®

Turmeric Chickpea Buddha Bowl

Turmeric Chickpea Buddha Bowl is the ultimate, anti-inflammatory, plant-based buddha bowl! It’s loaded with nutrient-dense superfoods and drizzled with a zesty lemon tahini dressing. Everyone needs a nourish bowl in their meal prep arsenal. Come and get this!

CourseMain Course, Meal Prep, SaladCuisineAmericanPrep Time30 minutesCook Time15 minutesTotal Time45 minutesServings4 1-quart bowlsCalories609kcalAuthorTraci – TheKitchenGirl.com

Ingredients

For the Root vegetables:

For the salad:

  • 4 cups Kale massaged with a little Olive Oil until tender
  • 1 cup Uncooked Quinoa cooked and cooled
  • 1 cup Turmeric Chickpeas
  • 2 medium Oranges (blood orange when in season) peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup Pomegranate Arils (seeds) or fresh berries
  • 1 Avocado diced
  • 1 cup Sprouts or microgreens
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts coarsely chopped

For the Lemon tahini dressing:

Make the sauteed chickpeas

Instructions

Roast the root vegetables:

  • Heat oven to 400°; toss together BEETS, SWEET POTATO, OLIVE OIL, and SALT; place on baking sheet; bake 15 minutes, or until tender; set aside to cool.

For the salad:

  • Chop KALE, ORANGE, AVOCADO, and WALNUTS; portion out the POMEGRANATE, QUINOA, TURMERIC CHICKPEAS, and SPROUTS; if you’re meal prepping this buddha bowl in advance, store all ingredients separately until ready to use.Kale tip: Add a little olive oil and salt to the kale and massage gently with your hands until kale starts to become tender. This makes it more palatable and delicious!

For the dressing:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together TAHINI, LEMON JUICE, WATER, LEMON ZEST, and (optional) SALT until combined; if needed, adjust the consistency by adding more tahini or water.

To serve:

  • Evenly divide ALL ingredients across 4 bowls and drizzle with lemon tahini dressing; serve immediately or store in airtight containers and refrigerate up to two days. If serving later, wait to add the dressing.

*Recipe taken from thekitchengirl.com

So, the question is: To be or not to be Vegan? That’s a huge topic for discussion! I love injecting the idea of a Vegan lifestyle into our food talks because it has been proven that it is the healthier way to live. Although I am not a Vegan myself, I respect those who dedicate enormous time and energy into making healthier choices, even though it might be a bit more complicated when dining out. I think the dining out part would be biggest issue for me, and although I have been to some fancy Vegan restaurants here in Toronto, I would be saddened to not be able to order a steak every now and then!

I guess you could have a change of heart for all of that over time, but the important thing is to make changes now, so that your body will thank you for in the future. I would love to hear your opinions on Veganism, and if you are one, how you do meals from day to day? What is life like on the social front for a Vegan? Also, do “vegan meat” dishes only fuel the fire for the real deal? This topic is juicy so get it on it! Have an amazing dinner tonight, and happy Tuesday everyone!

Sunday: At Home

Sunday came and went, and I have done a bit of everything from pulling weeds in the backyard, to cleaning toilets! I even managed to get out for a few hours and shop around with a friend for some furniture. It’s the long civic weekend in Toronto, so a proper bbq is in order tomorrow. We will have a few friends over, and the food will be fabulous as usual, with grilled corn and Pineapple Jerk Chicken Kabobs. I’m going for gold everyone! For dessert, I’m making a Red Velvet cake with cream cheese icing, and right about now, I bet you’re wishing that you were invited, right? It’s okay, I’ll do one better and share a recipe with you so that you can enjoy with me:

Kebabs on grill

Grilled Pineapple and Jerk Chicken Kebabs

INGREDIENTS

For the Jerk Chicken

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Skewers

  • 1 large pineapple, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Jerk Chicken (from above)
  • 2 large red peppers, cubed
  • 1 large red onion, cubed

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat grill to 400ºF.
  2. Mix all spices for the jerk chicken into a bowl. Then, massage spices into the chicken breast with your hands. Cut into cubes.
  3. Sprinkle paprika on pineapple cubes and prepare your kebabs by placing peppers, onion, pineapple, and chicken onto skewers (alternating between the four). Repeat until all ingredients are gone.
  4. Set kebabs on the grill for around 20-30 minutes rotating kebabs every five minutes.*
  5. Remove from grill and enjoy!

*Recipe taken from fitfoodiefinds.com

My neighbour was a little under the weather yesterday, and I thought to myself, “He needs a cake, too!” Needless to say, I baked a Red Velvet for him, and baked extra for the bbq. Two birds with one stone is what I call it, and it came in very handy. I now have a happy neighbour, and less prepping for Monday! Fantastic! If you decide to try out the kabob recipe, be sure to take pictures! You know how I love to see your creativity at work! Enjoy your night, and happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday: Reflections

Optimism Bias” and its effects on social distancing – WXOW

Currently, most of Canada has headed into a Stage 3 in the global pandemic. That means restaurants and bars have finally received the green light to open doors, malls and gyms, salons and spas as well. Even the movie theaters have announced they are back and business, and ready for action. Hooray for Canada! We have beaten the numbers of infected down to non-threatening, but still take social distancing rules very seriously. We played our cards right, and can now reap the benefits of being on what we called a “total lockdown.”

This is great news, but I wanted to focus in on the future of the world in its various stages of emergency, and reflect on how we as people, will cope with the changes in the upcoming years. Is anyone wondering whether we will ever be back to our old routines? Or have we stumbled upon a new way of life? I was in the car with my daughter today, getting ready to go to the store, and I forgot to take my mask with me, and she reached out for my mask, reminding me not to forget it. I looked at her and wondered if this life of being “pandemic ready” will be her new reality as she grows up.

They are preparing kids to go back to school with face masks, and are suiting up the teachers in full PPE attire in September. Schools will begin to look like a laboratory rather than a place to learn, and I wonder what kind of effect it will have on these young minds over time? The truth is, there is no real end date for this pandemic, and we could just be getting started on a rollercoaster of repetition. There are nations being brutally hit by the virus, while others are well on their way to recovery. The problem is, we can’t stop the world from moving. Sooner or later, what is a problem in one country, will quickly spill into another, making it impossible to stop the spread. A vaccine is all we could hope for in this time, but how will we be ready for the next big virus? What can we learn from today that we can use tomorrow? With a better understanding of how viruses work now, this will largely impact our social practices in the future. Can you picture yourself two years after the pandemic? I’m curious to know what it looks like in your mind. Happy Saturday everyone!