Buffalo Chicken Salad with Spicy Avocado Ranch Dressing

GAAAAAH! Okay, it’s been a month since I’ve posted anything, and, it’s not that I don’t love you guys, honest I do, I’ve just been lazy in the kitchen department and haven’t made anything new or worth writing about.  However the past few days I’ve become motivated to get back in the kitchen and make something new, tasty and healthy, the latter likely having to do with the fact that I am going to be sitting on a beach in the Dominican in less than a week.  Let me tell you, I am shit at dieting. I suck.  I eat healthy most of the time, but I often overeat and drink on the weekends.  I’ve lost about 10 pounds, definitely not the 20 I had originally intended… but I just can’t help it, food is SO GOOD.  Nonetheless, my eating habits can be problematic, and my lack of physical activity.  But I’ve started running and it’s making me feel a little better.  Anyways, I’m sure you’re all like, “That’s a really sad story Kelsey Bakes, but lets get to the recipe part.”  Well okay then, I will! Because I’m avoiding carbs like it’s my freaking job right now (not actually, I’m just reducing them a little), I thought  I would test out a few new salads this week.  I started off with my Crunchy Thai Chicken Salad with Spicy Sriracha Dressing and then moved on to the yummy recipe that I’m going to share with you today.  Trust me, you’ll love it, even my boyfriend Mr. Skeptical liked it.

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The first thing I like to ensure when I make a salad is that it is as colourful as possible.  Lots of colours not only means lots of healthy vitamins and nutrients, but it means lots of taste too.  For this salad I added corn, red onions, red cabbage, spinach, romain lettuce, green peppers and julienned carrots.  I really can’t stand a bland salad.  I mean, what’s the point?  I vowed to start a Salad Revolution and dammit I’m going to do it! I’ve been on a HUGE red cabbage kick lately, and so has my boyfriend.  After begging me to to put any cabbage in his salad, because it was “disgusting” I chopped it up and threw it in anyways, and now he’s begging me to put more in.  Win.

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I can be very weird about chicken.  It can’t be too moist or juicy because that makes me feel like it’s undercooked and then I get all nauseous and want to puke.  It also can’t taste too chewy – it just freaks me out. The chicken has to be perfect.  I’ve found that if I cook the chicken in my skillet, covered, until it’s nice and tender and then remove the lid and let the juices evaporate that the chicken gets a really great texture.  For this chicken, I sliced up some boneless skinless chicken breast and added about 1/4 cup of wing sauce (I used Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce) to a large skillet.  I cooked covered for about 7 minutes, flipping as needed, and then removed the lid for about another 2 to 3 minutes.

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For the Spicy Avocado Ranch Dressing, I combined 1/2 an avocado, 6 tbsp. of Kraft Fat Free Ranch Dressing and 1 tsp of Sriracha Sauce.  You can add more Sriracha if you want more spice.  I simply used a whisk to mix it all together and then drizzled it over the chicken and vegetables.

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Buffalo Chicken Salad with Spicy Avocado Ranch Dressing

makes 2 dinner sized salads

Ingredients

FOR THE SALAD

  • 10 oz. of Chicken, cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup wing sauce
  • 1/4 cup of red onion
  • 1 large julienned carrot
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup green peppers, sliced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup red cabbage

FOR THE DRESSING*

  • 6 tbps. of fat free ranch dressing
  • 1/2 an avocado, mashed
  • 1 tsp. sriracha or hot sauce
    *note that this makes quite a bit of dressing, I jarred mine and saved it for my lunchtime salad the following day.

Cooking Directions

  1.  Pour wing sauce over chicken strips and cook in a skillet on medium heat, covered, for 5 to 7 minutes, flipping as needed.  Once the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear, uncover the chicken and continue to flip for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Combine all vegetables in a large bowl and then divide between two plates.
  3. In a small bowl, combine avocado, ranch and sriracha until they are well mixed.
  4. Top your salad mix with half of the buffalo chicken and then drizzle the Avocado Ranch dressing on top.  I used about 2 tbsp of the dressing.

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And that’s it! Pretty easy right? I enjoy making salads during the week because they take barely anytime and very few dishes… and they make me feel a little skinnier in the morning.. hehe. Happy cooking!!!

Crunchy Thai Salad with Spicy Sriracha Dressing

photo 4I’m not much of a salad person.  I never have been.  Well perhaps that’s not true, let me rephrase that.  I’m not a meat salad person.  Give me a salad with beans and chickpeas and lentils, mixed with fresh veggies, or a spinach and fruit salad mixed with crisp spinach leaves, juicy strawberries and some kind of nuts, like almonds or walnuts, and then top it with a vinaigrette, and i’m S O L D sold. But for some reason, when you add meat to the mix, weather it be chicken or beef or fish, i just can’t do it.  It almost makes me nauseous. I have been on a quest to find the right Chicken salad.  I HATE fruit and meat combos (most of the time) so that was definitely out.  I made a mango barbecue chicken salad a few months back and I almost threw up trying to digest it.  Meat just freaks me out sometimes. I’m always concerned that i will get salmonella, or mad cow disease, or die from all the hormones and antibiotics hiding in there.  Sometimes meat just isn’t appetizing to me. But I like the taste of meat, and I’ve tried the vegetarian thing – just not my thing.

So what is a girl to do? Do I force down yet another boring unappetizing salad? Do I settle for a less than tasty dinner just because I’m trying to eat healthy and lose a few pounds? NO. I REFUSE to continue to eat less than tasty things just because they’re “healthy”.  NO. I will NOT sacrifice taste for fewer calories. NO. I WILL find a chicken salad that I love and can digest without wanting to eat an entire pizza to wash down the awful taste and cleanse my palette from the bland taste that is chicken salad.  I have challenged that bland chicken salad to become something more.  Something more than unseasoned chicken on a bed of greens. I REFUSE to settle for something less than extraordinary.  I want to be inspired by my salad. I want some SERIOUS salad Swag and some UNBELIEVABLE dressing. I want my salad to blow my mind.  To blow my tastebuds’ mind. I daresay, I have started a salad revolution.  Welcome to the uprising of the not-so-boring, unbelievable tasty, salad of awesomeness.

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I decided to go for a Thai themed salad.  I love Thai sauce.  It’s so damn good.  I used the President’s Choice Memories of Thailand Fiery Chili Pepper Sauce as the coating for my chicken.  I diced up 10 oz. of Chicken into strips, placed it in a skillet with about 1 – 2 tbsp. of the Chili Pepper Sauce, and cooked on medium, covered, until the chicken was no longer pink inside.  Flip the chicken every few minutes.  The sauce is thick and will begin to caramelize.  Once the chicken is cooked to your liking, remove the cover and allow any remaining juiced to evaporate.  This will also give your chicken time to brown slightly, and gives it a nice “from the grill” taste.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the rest of your salad.  I used sliced cabbage, julienned carrots, romaine lettuce and thawed frozen corn.  I also prepared my own spicy Sriracha dressing using olive oil, soy sauce, Sriracha Sauce and the juice of one lime.  To top off the salad, I added some crunch and sliced up one of my homemade flour tortilla wraps  into skinny strips and toasted them in the oven.

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Crunchy Thai Salad with Spicy Sriracha Dressing

makes two dinner sized salads

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 10 oz. of Chicken, cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp. of your favourite cooking sauce
  • 1 6-inch tortilla, cut into strips
  • 1 romain heart, slices
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, sliced
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 large carrot, julienned

For the dressing

  • 1-2 tbsp. Sriracha Sauce (depending on your desired level of spice)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp.  reduced sodium soy sauce
  • the juice of one lime

Cooking Directions

  1. Place chicken strips in a skillet on medium heat.  Add 1 – 2 tbsp of your favourite cooking sauce, like President’s Choice Memories of Thailand Fiery Chili Pepper Sauce.  Cover and cook until chicken is no longer pink inside.  Once chicken is cooked through, cook for an additional 1 – 3 minutes to brown the chicken and allow the sauce to caramelize.
  2. Prepare the rest of the salad while the chicken is cooking.  In a large bowl, add sliced cabbage, romain lettuce, julienned carrot and the thawed corn.
  3. Make the dressing by whisking all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.  Pour about 1/2 the dressing over the vegetable mixture and toss until evenly coated.
  4. Place the sliced tortilla wrap on a baking sheet and broil until crisp, about 2 minutes.
  5. Divide the cabbage mixture between two places and top each with one half of the cooked chicken and half the toasted tortilla wrap slices. Pour the remaining dressing over each plate and enjoy!

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My boyfriend found the sauce to be a little too spicy for his liking – I used 2 tbsp of Sriracha in the dressing I made.  So i agreed to tone it down the next time I make this.  This salad was so good, that I actually made more and took some for lunch the next day.  I’m very happy about how well this turned out.  It was not gross, or bland, or boring.  It was full of flavour and the crunchy tortilla added a great texture to the salad.

So.  People. I urge you to get some salad inspiration.  Join the revolution against plain, unsavory salads! Happy Cooking!

Bacon Ranch Barbecue Chicken Burgers

photo 2Okay…. so apparently I’ve been a little obsessed with burgers lately.  Perhaps it’s because I’m being hopeful that spring weather will soon be upon us – we got snow yesterday… April 2nd… and I’m feeling a little depressed about it.  The weather forecast, however, does look promising and I don’t see any below zero degrees Celsius in the next week.  Pray that the weather network isn’t lying, and that the temperature will warm up, bring rain, and get rid of the six-foot snowbanks that encompass every street in the city.  To me, burgers are something that you eat in the summer, you barbecue them on your patio, or at camp, the sun beaming down on you – seriously, I’m getting sick of this snow, maybe if I keep cooking summer foods mother nature will get the hint and bring me some double digit temperatures.

So the recipe I’m going to share today is great because not only does it taste fantastic, but it’s also relatively healthy, like most of my recipes.  Burgers are typically a little higher in calories, since they usually are accompanied by a bun, some sauces, and in my burgers, cheese and turkey bacon, but trust in me when I say that this is well worth it.  Each burger patty will run you just over 300 calories – the rest depends on what toppings you would like to add.  For this burger I added a slice of turkey bacon to top my ground chicken patty, as well as a slice of mozzarella, some fat free ranch salad dressing, a few lines of Sriracha (because I love me some spice) and a few slices of red onion.  I served it, of course, on a whole wheat Ezekial bun and ate it with a cucumber and tomato Greek style salad.

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For the patties I combined ground chicken, bread crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and some PC Chicken Barbecue Sauce – but you can use any sauce.   I mashed all the ingredients together with my hands, and then formed the mix into four 4 oz patties.  I cooked the burgers in a skillet, covered, for about 6 minutes on each side, then topped them with bacon and cheese, re-covered, and then cooked for an additional 30 seconds (or until the cheese has melted).  I pretty well cook all my burgers the same way – in a skillet, as I am not allowed to have a barbecue, and for about 12 minutes.  I then topped the burgers with Kraft’s Fat Free Ranch Dressing – I love this stuff because it’s creamy and thick and doesn’t really taste like fat free.  If you’re looking for a taste that’s closer to the full fat dressing, you can always go for the Calorie-Wise Ranch Dressing from Kraft – it pretty well tastes exactly like the full fat version.  I of course, made it spicy, and couldn’t resist adding a little Sriracha Sauce.  I developed this recipe by working off this one from JuliesEatsandTreats.com.

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Bacon Ranch Barbecue Chicken Burgers

makes four 4 oz. burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp barbecue sauce
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 4 slices of cheese (I used Mozzarella)
  • 4 tbsp ranch dressing (about 1 tbsp per burger)
  • Sriracha Sauce (if you like it spicy)
  • Other garnishes of your choice – tomatoes, onion, spinach, etc.
  • 4 Burger Buns

Cooking Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine ground chicken, bread crumbs, spices and barbecue sauce.  Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
  2. Divide the chicken mixture into four and make four equally sized patties (they should be about 4 oz. each)
  3. Place in a skillet and cook covered on medium heat for six minutes.  Covering helps your burger get an even cook.  Flip and repeat.
  4. Add bacon slices and cheese to each burger patty, cover, and cook for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the cheese has melted.
  5. Remove burger patties from heat, serve on a bun and top each burger with ranch dressing, Sriracha, and you favourite burger garnishes.
  6. Eat it!

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I promise that you will LOVE this burger.  It’s got a great taste and I LOVE adding the spicy Sriracha to give it a kick.  I promise I will make something else other than burgers at some point – they’re just so easy and versatile – meaning that they’re great for a weeknight dinner.  For more burger ideas please see my Burger Lover board on Pinterest.  Happy Cooking!!

Sriracha Bacon Cheese Burgers

photo 4I like everything spicy, so of course, adding Sriracha to essentially every meal is a must – once I discovered it, I just couldn’t get enough!  I like the kind of hot that causes your lips to burn, you know, the kind that you should probably follow up with a glass of milk… or Pepto, depending on how much heat your gut can take.  After rumaging through my freezer I discovered that the only meat I had on hand was ground beef, and since that said beef was so conveniently sitting beside a bag full of burger buns, I felt that some sort of food god was telling me to cook me some burgers. And I listened.  As you might remember, I am a HUGE burger lover, so once I decided a burger is what my belly wanted, I had to make something new, something I hadn’t tried before.  After a few nights of Thai stir-fry, I decided I was going to incorporate some serious heat into my burgers, Sriracha style.

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I did a little bit of Pinteresting, and discovered a few recipes that I based this burger off of.  The first thing I noticed is that most of the recipes I found has a little bit of soy sauce in them, but were otherwise pretty basic – beef, Sriracha, salt and pepper, and onion.  I omitted the salt (you get enough of that form the soy sauce) and added 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and 1 egg.  I added about 1/8 cup of diced red onion into the recipe.

photo 1In terms of toppings, and I think the title of this post says it all, I added cheddar cheese and sliced turkey bacon (you can use any bacon, of course, but I imagine thick cut would taste the best).  I also topped the burger with some sautéed red onion and, you guessed it, just a few lines of even more of that spicy Sriracha sauce.

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I cooked the burgers in a skillet since I’m not able to have a barbecue in our building – and to be honest, with the dumping of snow we just got, you couldn’t pay me to barbecue outside right now.  I cook my burgers on medium heat for about 6 minutes per side, with no oil since even extra lean ground beef has enough fat to make some grease in the pan.  Once cooked through, I remove the burgers, drain the grease in the pan, and then return the burgers to the heat.  I then add the bacon, cooked and sliced, the sautéed onion, and then top it with cheese and cover for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  I like adding the cheese AFTER I put on the toppings – I find all the flavours blend a little better.

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Sriracha Bacon Cheese Burgers

makes five 5 oz. burger patties

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. extra lean ground beef
  • 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 slices of sharp cheddar
  • 5 slices of cooked bacon
  • sliced, sautéed onion for garnishing

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients other than cheese, bacon, and extra onion.  Using your hands is the best approach.
  2. Form the beef mixture into five 5 oz. patties.  Cook in a skillet (or BBQ) on medium heat, for about 6 minutes per side, or until no longer pink inside.
  3. Garnish each burger with bacon, onion and then cheese.  Cover for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute or until cheese is melted.  Serve on a bun and top with more Sriracha sauce if desired.

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 This is probably my favourite burger so far – but you know me, I’ll probably say that about the next one, and the next one, and the one after that.  I like eating my burgers on Ezekial Buns – I find they’re not too doughy and not too big for the patties – I can’t stand an oversized bun it’s like it overpowers the taste of the patty.  Anyways – I urge you to try this one.  It’s honestly fantastic.  Happy Cooking!

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Ground Chicken Feta Burgers

Annnnd it’s the first day of spring, and up here in the great white north we just got majorly dumped on by a pile of unwanted snow.  Thanks mother nature, but if you could cut the crap, that would be great.  Anyways, I am a HUGE burger lover.  I love burgers, they’re freaking amazing.  And I don’t discriminate – I like beef burgers, turkey burgers, chicken burgers and veggie burgers; I like beer burgers, cheddar burgers, jalapeno burgers or any combination thereof.  I like avocados, tomatoes, onions and peppers on my burgers; I like ketchup, barbecue sauce, ranch and mayo on my burgers.  Please keep mustard and relish away from my burgers.  I also of course, like all types of cheese on my burgers.  Last night I was in the mood for a burger, but not a beef burger, so I settled on a chicken burger, made with ground chicken, feta cheese, breadcrumbs, and some spices.  I topped it with Swiss cheese, mashed avocado, spinach and sautéed red peppers and served it on an Ezekial bun (English muffin to be exact).

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This recipe is SUPER simple.  It took about 20 minutes from start to finish.  I have to cook all my burgers stove top, since I’m not aloud to have a barbecue in my apartment building.  When I cook stove top burgers, I usually cook them in a little bit of olive oil (cooking spray if I’m making beef burgers), covered, and for about 6 minutes on each side over medium heat.  If i’m melting cheese on the burgers, I will turn down the heat to medium low, add the cheese, and cover for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute.

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I love experimenting with all the different flavours you can pack into a burger – you can add so many things to the patty, sauces and toppings that it’s like you’re eating a different burger everytime!  If you LOVE spicy as much as I do, check out my Cheddar and Jalapeno Beef Burger here.  I topped it with turkey bacon and a ranch sauce, and served it on a whole wheat bun.  Although, these Ezekial buns are pretty great and I don’t think it’s going to be the last time I buy them.

 Ground Chicken Feta Burgers

Ingredients

makes 4 large patties

  • 1 pound of ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • 1/2 tsp cilantro
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • whole wheat buns (I use Ezekial)
  • Swiss cheese (1 slice per burger)
  • garnishes of your choice: spinach, avocado, onion, peppers, etc.

Cooking Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients to a large bowl. I usually use my hands when doing this, as I find it’s much easier than a spoon or spatula type utensil.  You may omit the egg.
  2. On a flat surface, form 4 large patties.  Place in a lightly oiled skillet on medium heat and cook for 6 minutes, covered.  Flip and cook for another 6 minutes.
  3. If you are planning on adding cheese, add it after the 12 minutes of cook time, reduce the heat to medium low, and cover for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the cheese has melted.

Ground chicken does not have a lot of fat, so it is necessary to add oil, butter or cooking spray to your pan.  I find it’s often difficult to cook homemade beef burgers stove top as much of the fat accumulates and I of course always get splattered with it.  Cooking these was nice because there was almost no fat whatsoever – it was a nice change.  I love avocado and sautéed veggies on my burgers – except beef where I prefer a cheese and bacon kind of approach.

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You can visit my burger lover board on Pinterest for more burger ideas and to see my burger making bucket list that I plan on taking on this summer.  I am a huge fan of big macs so I am dying to try a copycat version of it.  I hope you enjoyed the recipe – happy cooking!!

Spring Cleaning Shenanigans in the Kitchen

Can you believe tomorrow is the first day of Spring?  Neither do I… it doesn’t seem like it – the amount of snow we have here is just silly – and we are being threatened with more as we speak. Uhhhg when will it end!!?!?!?!

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So I have a confession: I’m not a fan of cleaning.  You’re probably like, “well, NO ONE is a fan of cleaning”.  But I seriously hate it.  The only time I voluntarily pick up a vacuum, without a complaint or protest, is when I am studying for an exam, because studying is the only other thing in this world that I hate more than cleaning.  So in my years of adulthood, I adopted a rule – if you can’t see it, it’s not messy.  I am pretty good at keeping my living space clean-ish.  If I start getting a clutter, I move that clutter to the closet of no return in our gaming room – we put all our junk in there, and when it gets too cluttered (meaning my boyfriend can’t access his clothes) we clean it out, but most of the stuff in there ends up in the trash or goes to goodwill.  I have never once pulled out my oven to see what’s living underneath it, nor have I done this with my fridge.  I only clean my floors when the dirt is visible.  Dishes don’t need to be done daily.  My bedroom door is usually closed to hide the laundry disaster that encompasses every square foot of the floor. And, honestly, I’m fine with it. As long as no one makes an unexpected visit, I can usually tidy our space in about an hour (minus our bedroom).  Obviously, as you can imagine, my space is in need of a little spring cleaning.  I’ve never done a true spring clean before.  In the past, spring cleaning to me meant washing my duvet and wiping the baseboards.  It didn’t mean cleaning every nook and cranny I could squeeze my hands through.  It didn’t mean dusting every surface and scrubbing the floors. So this year, I decided to take a new approach and vowed to do it right, for the first time ever.  This year I decided I would clean everything – that I would re-organize and make proper use of all my space, and yes, that I would clean under all my appliances.  Well my friends, this is day two, and so far I have managed to tackle my kitchen (minus the cupboard re-organization, which seems more like a weekend job to me).

I assumed my kitchen would be the hardest job.  I’ve never cleaned my oven, never scrubbed down my fridge, and have certainly never checked out the situation below my appliances.  I wasn’t sure where to start, so I of course logged on to Pinterest to figure it out.

Make a game plan

The first step in starting a major spring cleaning overhaul, is to plan it out.  Make a list outlining everything you want to do, and then divide it by room.  Focusing on one room at a time will help you stay on track, especially when you’re as disorganized and distracted as I am.  I found a few sample lists online and then made my own according to what needed to be done in my apartment.

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Deep clean your kitchen

Maybe you’re more organized then I am.  That’s likely, since I’m grossly unorganized and avoid housework at all costs.  Either way, if you haven’t given your kitchen a true deep clean since your last bout of spring cleaning, you probably need to prepare yourself for the amount of dirt you’re about to face.  I of course found tones of great cleaning ideas on Pinterest – Here are some ways to give your {dirty} kitchen a {serious} cleanse.

1. Clean that {dirty} sink with baking soda and water: I truly discovered a gem here when I finally used baking soda as a cleaning agent.  I always thought, wait, it doesn’t have bleach in it?  Then I’m not using it. It actually worked BETTER than most of the cleaning supplies i have at home AND it’s not toxic or full or harmful chemicals.  Simply sprinkle the baking soda evenly over your sink, scrub with a toothbrush or sponge, rinse and done! Clean sink.

2. OR, use a lemon and salt: 

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3. Scrub that {dirty} fridge: I’m so bad at keeping my fridge clean.  I had to majorly disinfect the thing it was gross.  So I will try to make an effort to keep up with daily and weekly cleaning, not just season cleaning – say no to fridge neglect! Click here for Martha Stewart’s take on hoe to clean your fridge the right way.

4. Reorganize your fridge and freezer: How many times have you cleaned out your kitchen, and cursed yourself because the damn grapes went bad because they got pushed behind that giant Tupperware container of leftovers that no one wants to eat (or something of the sort)?  Crap goes bad in my fridge ALL the time.  Sometimes I just don’t see it. It goes bad, which is irritating for my belly, that got a sudden urge for grapes, and also for my bank account, which screams at me every month when it sees how much money I spend on groceries.  Organize your crap people!

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5. Plan out your meals and grocery list: keep you fridge and life organized by planning out your dinners for the week.  Keep a dry erase sticker, note pad, or chalk board sticker on your fridge so you can stick to your game plan.  I use a weekly dry erase planner from Martha Stewart’s Home Office collection.

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6. Steam clean that {dirty} microwave with water and lemon: combine one lemon, cut in half, in a bowl of hot water.  Microwave for about 3 minutes, and then allow it to sit, door closed, for another 5 minutes.  This loosen the sticky caked on mess so you can easily wipe it away with water and a little dish soap.

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7. Clean that {dirty} oven: I read a lot of different things regarding the PROPER way to clean an over.  I am not lucky enough to have a self cleaning oven, so it was pretty intense trying to get the damn thing clean.  I used odor free easy off (which didn’t quite do the job I wanted) and then did a second scrub with just baking soda and water.  I formed a type of paste, spread it around my over, let it sit, and then wiped.  The dirt came off clean and my oven is sparkly clean.

8. Clean between your oven glass:  I think this was the best trick I discovered on my road to a cleaner kitchen journey.  Click the picture below to learn more about how Ask Anna  did it with nothing more than a hanger and a Windex Wipe.

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9. Clean that {nasty} toaster:  Sometimes simply emptying the crumb catcher isn’t enough.  Use a pastry brush to get out all the crumbs in those hard to reach sections that just never seem to get clean.  See the full instructions here.

10.  Keep that {stinky} garbage smelling fresh:  My garbage ALWAYS smells. I hate it.  After completely sterilizing your garbage sprinkle a little baking soda at the bottom so it stays smelling clean.

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Of course there are TONES more tips and tricks – these were just my faves.  This site was REALLY helpful and this site had a bunch of homemade recipes AND printables – trust me I will be all over this.

I would love to commit to keeping my house clean and organized all year around – and I stumbled across a great resource for helping you do just that.  It’s stopping the fridge neglect, eliminating the dish pile-up AND helping you avoid the dreaded spring clean.  It has some great FREE printables, so make sure you check out the year round cleaning checklist!  I’m using this as a guideline to help get the house a little more organized and keep it that way!!*

*Note: spring cleaning initiatives are like new years resolutions – hopefully I can keep this one, yikes!!!

Happy Cleaning!!!!

Parmesan Dijon Chicken With Fettuccine Alfredo and Sautéed Vegetables

I’m pretty in love with parmesan cheese.  I love it on my my pasta (all types of pasta) and sometimes on my meat, usually my chicken.  I love adding it to sauce, and have no objections to eating it by itself.  I like it in Caesar salad, and cold pasta salads.  I like it here and there and everywhere, I would eat it with a fox and I would eat it in a box. I would eat it on a train and on a plain, in a house or with a mouse.  Excuse my Dr. Seuss quotations… but I really do feel… passionate about parmesan cheese.  I’m THAT girl at the restaurant who, when the waiter says, “Parmesan Cheese or Fresh Cracked Pepper Miss?”  I say, “ABSOLUTELY!!” And then they say, “Okay, let me know when.”  And I don’t say when, and the Parmesan cheese just keeps piling up and piling up. But I just don’t say when.  And finally, I say it, but only because the people I’m dining with look at me like I’m a freak and the waiter is annoyed and I don’t want them to spit in my dessert.  SO I think we’ve determined that I love parmesan cheese and that I like using it in my recipes, which is what I did.  I made a Parmesan Dijon Chicken and served it with Fettuccine Alfredo and sautéed red onion and spinach.  It was fantastic.

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I first chopped up the chicken into strips. I brushed each strip front and back with Dijon mustard, and then pressed each piece into the shredded parmesan cheese, coating the entire surface of each chicken strip with the cheese.  Next I melted 1 tbsp of butter in a skillet with 1 tbsp of oil.  I laid each piece of chicken down in the pan and cooked them on medium heat.  After about 5 minutes I flipped the strips and let them cook for an additional 5 minutes and until the chicken was no longer pink inside.

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I made the Alfredo sauce during the last few minutes that the chicken was cooking.  I melted 2 tbsp of butter with 2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream in a skillet over medium heat.  Once the mixture started to chicken (about 4 minutes) I added 2 cups of whole wheat fettuccine noodles and turned the heat to medium-low.  I added another 1/3 cup of heavy cream and 2/3 cup of parmesan cheese.  This is meant ot be served immediately so make sure you time it that this is the last step you must complete before serving your meal.  I laid the chicken strips on top and added some sautéed onion and spinach – mushrooms and asparagus are also a great addition to this dish.  I drizzled a little bit of the Alfredo sauce on top and sprinkled with yet, more parmesan cheese.

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Parmesan Dijon Chicken With Fettuccine Alfredo and Sautéed Vegetables

Serves 2

Ingredients

for the chicken

  • 10 oz chicken, cut into strips
  • Dijon mustard
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup to coat all the chicken)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. oil

for the fettuccine Alfredo

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups whole wheat fettuccine (you can use up to 4 cups if you are serving more people)

Cooking Directions

  1. Brush both sides of each chicken strip with Dijon mustard and then press into shredded parmesan cheese until entire piece is coated.
  2. In a skillet, melt butter and add olive oil.  Ensure pan is well coated.  Place the strips in the skillet and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Make the Alfredo sauce by combining the butter and 2/3 of the cream into a skillet on medium heat.  Warm for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mix starts to thicken.
  4. Add the noodles and turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the parmesan cheese and the rest of the cream (1/3 cup).  Serve immediately.
  5. Top with the chicken and sautéed vegetables of your choice.

So there you have it! It’s super easy.  This took me about 20 minutes from prep time to eat time, and there’s nothing I like more than a tasty, quick and easy recipe on a weeknight.  I’ll be signing off for a bit… I have my final exam this Thursday and then I’m done school until the summer. Woohoo! Wish me like. Happy Baking!

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

photo 3Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and, on weekends, it’s by far my favourite meal of the day. In general, I do not need to rush on a weekend.  I’m not going to be late for anything because I usually have no where to go.  This means that I can spend a little extra time making breakfast – and well, usually on the weekend my breakfasts are a little more…. carb-y.  My boyfriend has been begging me for weeks to make pancakes for breakfast, and I think he was almost ready to buy the prepacked boxed stuff and give it a go himself if I didn’t make a batch.  Of course I wasn’t having any of that.  So to save him from the Aunt Jamima pancake wannabes (and to save my poor pans from being scorched to death due to my boyfriend’s inability to cook) I agreed to make a from scratch batch of whole wheat banana pancakes. It was also a request that the pancakes be chocolate chip, and since I usually have some form of chocolate in my house I searched my cupboards and found a few chocolate chips to throw into the mix. Yummmmyyy…   I can’t remember the last time I had pancakes, and surprisingly enough. I’ve NEVER made pancakes before.  Never in my life.  Pancakes were something I would watch my mom cook when I was little.  She would put all the ingredients in a bowl, I would mix it and then sit on the counter as I watched her cook it all up.  She would make a bunch of fun shapes: a big circle for a head and tiny circles for eyes; she would make a nose and ears and a big smile.  Sometimes she’d even make a Mickey Mouse.  It was great. We had tones of fun eating our Saturday morning pancakes.

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Since I had never made pancakes before, I decided to do a little googling.  I found an excellent recipe from InspiredTaste that I used for a guideline.  For this recipe I used whole wheat flour mixed with a little unbleached all purpose flour, but you can use all whole wheat flour if you want.  Using all whole wheat flour has it’s advantages, but tends to create a thicker batter so you may need to add more milk if it’s unreasonably thick.  I added a little sugar, but you can substitute with 2 tbsp of honey, as well as 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and 1 ripe mashed banana.  I included a little bit of cinnamon and it gave the batter an amazing taste.  And of course, I topped it off with some maple syrup – and I’m sure it would taste fabulous with some homemade whipped cream, powdered sugar, or fruit.

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Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Makes about ten 4-inch pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (or more if you like them extra chocolaty)

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a large bowl,  combine flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.  Set Aside.
  2. Heat milk in a skillet over medium heat until it is lukewarm (you should be able to hold your finger in it for 10 seconds without it burning).  Whisk together warmed milk, egg, melted butter, vanilla extract and mashed banana.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine until completely incorporated and no flour pockets remain.  Do not overmix the batter. Fold in chocolate chips.  You may add more milk if the batter seems too thick.
  4.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Brush the pan with melted butter and spoon a 1/4 cup of the batter onto the skillet.  Use the spoon to spread the batter to about a 4 inch circle.
  5. When the edges look dry and bubbles form on the top of the pancake, it is ready to be flipped (about 2 minutes).  Cook the other side of the pancake for an additional 1 to 2 minutes – until light brown and cooked through the middle.

I’m not going to lie, we finished off the entire batch. Man they were good! They were light and fluffy, not too sweet, and the banana taste just amplified everything.  I will ABSOLUTELY be making them again… or some over form of pancake… I might be on a pancake roll now.  So, try these. They’re amazing. Happy Baking!

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A Chili Cook-off: Beefy Beer Chili

Happy March! I can almost see the end of winter… almost.  Lets step back to last week for a second.  February.  Usually when people think February, they think Valentines Day (or, if you live where I live, “Holy crap how is it still winter? I am SO over this BS, I can’t believe I have to endure another three months of this!”).  However, if you are part of the mining group at the company I work for, you think “Annual Mining Group Chili Cook-off”.  And of course, being the Kitchen Queen that I am, I decided to submit a chili (plus I REALLY wanted to knock my co-worker Jon of the podium – as things stood he was a three time winner and this year would be his third time in a row as the Chili Cook-off Champ.  Now, let me just remind everyone that I have only ever made one chili in my entire life – my healthy Seven Bean Chili – which unfortunately placed second to last at last year’s chili cook-off.  It’s actually one of my favourite things to eat…. but apparently not everyone agreed.  I wasn’t going to let my chili come even close to last this year. Nope, not mine.  My chili was going to freaking DOMINATE all the other pathetic wannabe chilies.  I was going to massacre.  Clean house.  Annihilate the competition.  Those chilies would want to BE my chili.  My Chili was going to make the competition it’s bitch.  They didn’t stand a chance.  I researched for weeks* (*I actually only googled the day before).  I found a few unbeatable recipes, and then combined them to make one SUPER UNBEATABLE chili.  I slaved all night to get it right* (*that’s actually not true, I literally just threw all the ingredients in my slow cooker, set it to low and then pressed go…. but I’m just trying to make the story more interesting).  I knew I had it in the bag.  There is NO WAY it could be stopped.  Step 1: Win chili cook-off; Step 2: WORLD DOMINATION. Muhahaahahahah.

photo 2It was noon. Lunch room.  With bated breath, my fellow comrades and I patiently awaited as our co-workers dug into slow cooker after slow cooker, tasting each chili carefully.   I knew I would be victorious.  The votes were tallied, and I held onto my breath while the winners were announced* (*I actually did the tallying so I knew right away what the results were).  I unfortunately did not win, first, second, or even third.  Again, Kelsey’s chili, that she worked SO hard on, came next to last.  My co-worker Jon won for the fourth time, his third in a row, and I was left in the dust, cradling my slow cooker in the corner.  But in all seriousness my chili was no match for the others.  I’m a total rookie.  The taste was there, it just wasn’t good enough.  Heck my chili wasn’t even in MY top three, and the second I tasted it I knew that the coveted Chili Cook-off Trophy, the Cameron Cup, would not be mine this year.  Until we meet again Jon! Which, like is everyday, since we work together, so, I say, UNTIL OUR CHILIES MEET AGAIN JON!

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The Cameron Cup

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Four Time Chili Cook-off Winner

Now, say what you want about my chili, but it actually was pretty good.  It just needed a little more spice I think.  My secret ingredient was beer, and it gave the chili a very interesting flavour.  I think it was missing some sweet, so next time I will add a few tbsp of brown sugar to add to the taste a little bit.

Beefy Beer Chili

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs extra lean ground beef
  • 2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 2 19 oz cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of green chilies
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, diced, seeds in
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3 gloves garlic
  • 1 12 oz. bottle of beer
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tbsp (or more) red pepper flakes

Cooking Instructions

  1. Brown beef in a large skillet until no longer pink.  Doing this in bunches may help, since 3 lbs of beef is actually quite a bit of meat.
  2. While the beef is browning, combine tomatoes and paste to the slow cooker.  Add the beans, green chilies, onion and garlic, and all the spices.  Add beer and beef.  Mix all the ingredients together to insure they are evenly combined.  Set your slow cooker to low and cook for 8 to 10 hours.

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Pretty easy right?  Again, I recommend adding some brown sugar to the pot (2 tbsp should do) and adding more red pepper flakes.  My dad actually recommended cooking the beer with the beef, and said that more alcohol would be burned off, making the chili taste less like beer.  Next year I vow to make a prize-winning chili, but as of now, I will have to live with my fifth place recipe.  Here’s to next year!

I actually love eating chili in the winter and fall, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, which is great considering we hit temperatures of -50 degrees Celsius this winter. Eek!  Be that as it may, I’ve tried to be a good sport.  Ken and I have visited camp a few times this winter, on weekends where it actually warmed up – which is lucky since we only have a wood stove to warm us up.  And of course there’s a sauna.  I wasn’t brave enough to cut a hole in the ice this year but I did just in the snow with nothing buy a towel and my bravery. Of course I immediately regretted it – nothing a little steam and a few shots of Amaretto can’t fix 😉 Happy Baking!

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Oven Baked Chicken Chimichangas

I need to share a new recipe that I discovered a few weeks ago.  It quickly became a household favourite – meaning my boyfriend begs me to make these at least twice a week.  Chimichangas.  So good I could die.  Chimichangas are essentially deep fried burritos and can be filled with anything from beef and beans to chicken and veggies – anything you can think of really.  For these tiny tubes of tastyness, I stuffed my homemade flour tortillas with salsa, spinach, a few spices, cheese, and a whole lot of chicken.  I top them with some homemade guac and some Sriracha sauce and voila – a quick and easy Mexican dish that everyone will absolutely love – and to top it off, these are baked, not deep friend.

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I made these using my smaller tortilla wraps, where I divide my regular tortilla recipe into 16 rather than 12.  But you can easily buy a pack of tortilla wraps at the grocery store if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making your own.  The first step is to cook your chicken.  I do this by cutting my chicken into small cubes and placing it in a skillet with a little bit of water.  Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink inside.  Next, I mix together the salsa, spices, spinach and cheese.  Mix in the chicken and stir until all ingredients are combined.  For the spice, I use Oregano and Garlic Powder, as well as a little Cumin so that it has that “Taco” taste to it.  I like using medium salsa over mild as it adds a little kick to it.

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Once you have your mix, lay out your tortillas and place a few dollups of the mixture in the centre of the wrap.  About a third to half cup of the mixture depending on how large your wraps are.  This mixture usually lets me make 7 to 8 chimichangas.  Fold in two of the edges and then roll up the wrap.  Place seam side down on a parchment paper lined pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Brush each chimichanga with a little bit of melted butter, and then toss in the oven at 425 F Degrees for 25 minutes or until golden.

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Oven Baked Chicken Chimichangas

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. chicken, cooked and cubed
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 jar of salsa or picante sauce
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 8 tortilla wraps

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F Degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine salsa, spinach,oregano, garlic cumin and cheese.  Add chicken and mix well to incorporate.
  3. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the chicken salsa mixture to the centre of each wrap.  Fold in two edges and then roll up the wraps.  Place on the baking sheet stem side down.
  4. Brush each chimichanga with melted butter.  Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Serve with guacamole, hot sauce, sour cream or more salsa.

I find that if I put too much cheese in these it has a tendency of seeping out of the wraps while cooking and this can make the bottoms a little soggy.  Letting these sit for a few minutes after taking them out of the over, while difficult because they smell so darn good, is a good idea – these are extremely hot inside and I’ve burned my tongue on more than one occasion, so be careful!!  These are a little over 300 calories each depending on what you serve them with.  They’re pretty filling, so I like to have 2 as a meal.  This recipe is a must try – yummy! Happy Baking!