cooking for one // chicken fingers

I love cooking. I have been crafting my culinary skills since I was a little kid. I would help my parents out in the kitchen as much as I could growing up. In high school I took the food and nutrition class offered through the school. I also peer-helped in the food and nutrition class the year after I completed it. My favourite take away from this course was the recipe book we created. It included all the recipes we made through out the school year. Fast forward several years later and I am now cooking for one on the reg. I came across the recipe book last week and remembered the homemade chicken fingers we made in class one day – they were so good! We made them with sweet potato fries too. So this week, I made them for myself and they were totally worth blogging about.

So, what makes them unique? Well it’s a bit more than just a piece of chicken battered. I mean, it is just a chicken finger but it’s what I use to make the batter stick that adds a ton of flavour! I’ll break it down quickly, they are super easy to prepare and are pretty quick to cook.

First thing, cut a chicken breast into thin slices, about an inch or so wide. In one bowl, mix your wet ingredients. This is just mayo and honey dijon mustard mixed together. I added a bit of pepper to the wet ingredients though. In a second bowl, you mix the dry goods. This is just panko crumbs and some spices. I switched it up a bit from what we did in school and used garlic powder and a bit of cajun to add some more flavour to the crusted batter. In school we used thyme and salt and pepper.

One at a time, I covered the chicken strips with the wet mixture and then coated the strips by tossing them in the dry mixture. Super easy! Then I placed them on a baking sheet, setting them on tin foil first to help make the clean up easier. I baked them at 400 for about 15 minutes, flipping them once. You can play around with the temperature and cook time, depending on your oven and desired crunch!

cooking for one // spicy thai quinoa bowl

I’m a sucker for food that has a bit of a bite to it, especially when it’s super easy to make. Thai sauce is one of my favourite sauces. I love it as a dip for appetizers and as a sauce to cook with. Recently I experimented with VH’s Spicy Thai sauce to make my own quinoa bowl. Quinoa is grain high in fibre that offers a ton of protein. Quinoa is also gluten-free yet still high in antioxidants and iron. One of the best things about quinoa is how easy it is to cook and how easy it is to incorporate into any dish.

The first thing I did was cut up some onions and red peppers. I cooked these up in a frying pan with just a tiny bit of olive oil. As soon as the onion and red pepper started to cook, I added some frozen broccoli florets, chunks of fresh kale and some frozen sweet corn. This would be a good time to start boiling the water for the quinoa.

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I cooked the vegetables until they were tender through out. Since I already had cooked chicken, thanks to buying a rotisserie chicken the night before, it was easy to just throw in some chicken. I’d suggest using rotisserie chicken, but I’m sure any chicken you use will do the trick.

Now the water for the quinoa should be boiling, so cook the quinoa. In the meantime, add some spicy thai sauce to the frying pan and let it simmer on low for a bit. This lets the veggies and the chicken really soak up the flavour. Once the quinoa is cooked, mix it right into the pan with the chicken and veggies. And there you have it, an easy dinner!

tips to make winter better

Okay, ah.. winter is less than three weeks away. Although that doesn’t mean the cold weather, the blistering wind or the snow is going to hold off on us. In Canada our winter weather is very cold and our summer weather is very hot. If you’re like me, you could do without winter. Instead of being a debby downer about the season, I’ve compiled some tips that will improve your winter and help you survive the big frost. These tips should help you stay sane through out the next few months. Just remember, spring will be here soon!

1. Make DIY hand/feet warmers
These are easy enough to make with only a few supplies. The first step is to cut some material into squares. Get some thread to sew three of the sides closed, or get double sided tape to do this. Once you have three out of the four sides sealed, add a bit of uncooked rice in. Finally, seal up the fourth and final side. Bam! You’re done. Pop these little guys into the microwave and you’ve got yourself a reusable warmer. For inspiration, check out DIY’s on YouTube.

2. Avoid added sugar
Unless you’re a kid or you play more sports in the winter then you are likely participating in less physical activities. We tend to hibernate just a little bit this time of year. Spending less time outdoors can result in added weight gain. Not only does sugar aid weight gain, but it also will suppress your immune system. Be sure to get those fruits and veggies in ya!

3. Get some house plants
House plants can add so much for your living space. Not only are they decorative, but they also create oxygen and moisture. Ultimately, plants can help control the dryness that comes along with keeping your place heated during the winter.

4. Switch your bedding up
If you don’t have a duvet yet, you’ll totally appreciate having one during the colder months. There are so many different duvets out there but they all do the trick. Look for something that’s heavier than your comforter. If you already have a duvet, consider switching your bed sheets to a different material. Fleece or cotton are great alternatives.

5. Get a good lip balm
There is nothing worse than dry, cracked or even bleeding lips. The key is to keep your lips moisturized through out the day. Be sure to reapply a couple times a day and to avoid chap stick with scents or flavours.

6. Embrace the season
It’s key to stay positive this time of year. Get involved in the many things winter has to offer. This includes watching parades, building a snow fort, creating snow angels, going skating, ice fishing, etc. Kids often enjoy winter more than adults and this is probably because they take full advantage of the snow. Building snow men and having snowball fights isn’t just for kids! Dress for the weather and get into it.

no cooking kick ass party app

Last week I went to my first holiday party of the season. So I think it’s safe to say the holidays are finally here. After all, Remembrance Day has passed and we’ve had our first little snow fall of the soon to be winter season. Food is certainly something our culture has incorporated into the holiday season. You may have a turkey dinner, or a couple turkey dinners coming up. Maybe you’re just attending a pot luck. Either way, this no cook app should be your go to whether you are hosting, or attending.

After cruising through Instagram and Pinterest for some inspiration on what I could bring to the first Christmas party of the year, I found exactly what to bring. A meat and cheese board! It’s so easy to put together. There is very little preparation is required and no cooking required. I purchased all the items from my local grocery store and used a wooden cutting board to display it all.

My board included mild pepperettes, hot Genova salami, prosciutto, marble cheese, jalapeño Havarti, a cheese ball and a variety of olives. I also threw in some vegetable thin crackers on the side.

To prepare my “charcuterie,” or meat and cheese board, I cut up the marble cheese into small squares. I then cut the brick of jalapeño Havarti into thin slices, leaving them in the form of a brick. The cheese ball was easy enough, I just set it on the wooden cutting board with a cheese knife. I cut the mild pepperettes in half and then rolled the hot Genova and the prosciutto so they were in a tube like shape. I put the olives in a small glass bowl and positioned them on the cutting board too. Bam! I was done.

My board was simple but was a total hit. Often for pot lucks, there aren’t many meat options unless something brings meatballs. Meatballs are also a great item to bring. I received a lot of compliments on my board. People loved the variety and the set up. You can get creative while putting your board together and spice it up a bit by adding nuts, condiments and other types of cracks or bread.

six gift ideas under $20 for secret santa

Secret Santa is a lot of fun. You get assigned to purchase a gift for another participant and in some cases, you remain anonymous. If you are familiar with the game, you know that more than likely after the gift exchange everyone tends to tell one another who had who. Often secret santa happens amongst friends or co-workers. It’s a great way to get everyone involved and not have to buy everyone an individual gift because that can get expensive. Organizers always set a price range so that the gifts are in and around the same value and no one feels like they over did it, or under did it.

Here are six gift ideas that are within a $20 limit.

1. Canadian Olympic Team Collection Red Mittens – $15

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Photo by HBC

2. AROMACAR Ceramic Car Diffuser – $9.95
     + add refill pads for $4.95
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Photo by Saje

3. Burt’s Bees® Travel Essentials Gift Set -$14.97

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Photo by Walmart Canada

4. The Night Before Christmas Gift by LUSH – $15.95
includes Twilight shower gel and Sleepy body lotion
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Photo by LUSH North America

5. Polar Bear Rustic Mug by DAVIDsTEA

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Photo by DAVIDsTEA

6. A Pretty Christmas Tree Ornament – $15

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Photo by Indigo 

cooking for one // kale chips

Kale chips are game changers. A lot of my friends are disgusted when I send them a snap of me making or crunching down on them, but they shouldn’t be! Kale is known as one of the healthiest foods although the way I prepare it may not be the healthiest. However, I can say it’s cheap, easy to make and you won’t feel as guilty as you might after devouring an entire bag of potato chips. Kale is pretty cheap to purchase and is pretty effortless to grow here in Ontario. I buy a bundle from the grocery store for about $1.97 and I also would finish this bundle in one night. No shame in that, well maybe a little.

First off, preheat the oven to around 350 degrees. Next, rip the kale into bit size chunks. I purchased a really neat salad spinner off of VarageSale for $5 – this makes the entire process much easier and quicker. However, it does mean more clean up for you.

Once you have torn apart your bundle of kale, you should rinse and dry it using a salad spinner, strainer or however you normally prepare your lettuce for a salad.

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Once the kale is relatively dry, add a TINY bit of olive oil. I use about a tablespoon per bundle. Trust me when I say the oil goes a long way, too much will ruin your kale chips.

I then add salt and pepper, without measuring because that is how it’s done in my kitchen! After making these kale chips a couple times, you can add some flavour. My go to is just salt and pepper. I quickly figured out that you don’t need as much salt as you might think and you can also add more salt or pepper once the chips are crispy and dried out. A dash of cayenne pepper is a nice touch for those who like some spice.

Once you have an even coat of oil and spice, lay out the chunks of kale onto a sheet of aluminum foil and then throw it in the oven on a cookie/baking sheet.

Keep a close eye on the chips as they cook, you don’t want them to burn but you don’t want them soggy either. In and around 10 minutes should be enough time! Pull them out just before they start to dry out completely and turn brown.

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