Birthday Cake Popcorn: An Alternative to Cake!

I love popcorn! It’s such an easy, light snack. Since I got rid of my microwave 2 years ago, I avoided making it, thinking it would be a big “to do” in a pot. I soon realized that it’s really the simplest, most delicious way to make popcorn and it is way more fun than doing it in the microwave!

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I use coconut oil, and a dash of salt on most days, but when there is a special occasion, I have a lot of fun with it. There are so many delicious ways to turn your everyday popcorn into a party in your mouth (check out this post), and this birthday cake popcorn is no exception!

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I recently found myself in need of a lighter, and somewhat healthier alternative to cake, but I still wanted it to be fun and special. So, when I came across this post about birthday cake popcorn, I was really excited to give it a try. It was a huge (addictive) success with the masses, and took me no more than 15 minutes to put together!pop3

Here is what you need:

• 1 1/2 cup white chocolate chopped

• 1 1/2 cups classic white cake mix of your choice.

• 2/3 cup kernels

• 1/2 cup coconut oil for chocolate and popcorn

• A sprinkle of sea salt

• 1/4 cup sprinkles

Step 1: Pop your kernels

In a large pot with a lid, over medium high heat, add 1/4 cup of coconut oil and 3 kernels. Wait until the 3 little kernels pop (these are your testers). Remove them from the pot, add the kernels to the oil with a sprinkle of sea salt and shake it up. Cover and let that pop, while shaking regularly to ensure every little kernel gets a chance to pop. This should take about 2 min. When you start to hear the popping slow down, take off the heat and let it rest.

Step 2: Melt the Chocolate

You can do this in the microwave, but since I don’t have one, I boil a little bit of water in a pot and put a glass bowl overtop. Mix the white chocolate and the remaining 1/4 cup of coconut oil to the bowl, and stir with a spatula until nice and smooth.

Step 3: Make the Batter

Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and add to it the 1 1/2 cups of cake mix. Stir well until there are no lumps left.

Step 4: Assemble

Pour this cake batter, chocolate mixture all over the popcorn that has been resting in the pot. Add the 1/4 cup of sprinkles and fold over until well combined.

Step 5: chill out

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spread the popcorn out evenly and let it chill for at least an hour. You may need 2 baking sheets for this recipe.

Step 6: Try your best not to eat it all!

Do you have any fun popcorn recipes to share?

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Simple Orecchiette Pasta Dish with Fennel, Turkey and Broccoli

I’ve been dreading the fact that summer is slipping away and fall is right around the corner, but this week has been so hot and I am just trying to soak it up while I still can! The only issue I have with this heat is cooking in it, since I have no air-conditioning in my apartment. Turning on the oven when its already 100 degrees in my tiny kitchen isn’t ideal, so in order to embrace the heat while it lasts, I’ve been trying to do most of my cooking on the stovetop, and i’ve been choosing quick and easy recipes. That way, I am in and out of the kitchen in a flash and this dish is perfect for that.

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I fell in love with this pasta dish when I got the Carmine’s Family Style Cookbook a few years back. If you have ever been to their restaurant in NYC you will know that it’s one flavour explosion after another. Every recipe in their cookbook is delicious, but their dishes aren’t exactly on the healthy side. Because of that, I try to modify where I can, but I won’t lie… their version of this meal is really, really, really good, so if ever you’re feeling like a cheat night and don’t mind the extra calories, go for it! You won’t regret it (well, maybe a little).

For this regular weeknight meal I wanted it to become something a little healthier, a little quicker and a little lighter.  So while their version calls for nearly a cup of olive oil, mine calls for 4 tbsp, and you know what? The flavours are close enough to the real deal! It’s still bursting with a delicious garlic, fennel olive oil flavour. This is definitely one of my go-to favourite weeknight recipes and it’s just as yummy the next day for lunch!

Simple Turkey Broccoli Orecchiette – Adapted from Carmine’s Family-style Cookbook
Serves 2 to 4

What you need:

3-4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Orecchiette
1 small head of broccoli cut into 3-inch spears
1 lb ground turkey or if you’re feeling fancy, 1/2 lb of fennel sausage (casings removed).
2-3 cloves coarsely chopped garlic
8 fresh basil leaves sliced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (if you went for the ground turkey)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup Romano cheese

What you need to do: 

  1. In a large salted pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to the package directions, and add the broccoli spears during the last minute of cooking. Drain and return the pasta and broccoli to the pot.
  2. In a large skillet, add 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, garlic, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and basil, and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon until browned. 3 to 5 minutes. Then season with salt and pepper.
  3. Toss the turkey with the pasta and broccoli in the pot. Add the remaining olive oil and the 1/2 cup of Romano.
  4. Enjoy!

Green with Envy Smoothie

Can anyone tell I am obsessed with smoothies of the green variation? I can’t get enough of them. Is it just me, or is there something super satisfying about drinking something that is such a bright green colour? You just know it’s good for you and filled with all sorts of nutrients that will keep you going throughout the day.

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While I was living in NYC I was careful where I spent my money. I was there for almost 6 months, and I have to say I never once paid for a smoothie. I had my own blender so I thought it was a waste to spend 10$ for someone else to whip up something so simple, but when I was there a few weekends ago (without my own blender) I was craving one and bit the bullet. I went to the Green Bean Cafe near where I was staying and bought the Green with Envy smoothie packed with kale, banana, spinach, dates and pineapple. Wow! I shouldn’t have waited that long, it was amazing and so close to where I was living, although it’s probably best that I had no idea it existed because I would have been broke. The smoothie was just sweet enough and creamy and so, so tasty. When I got back to Montreal I decided I needed to replicate it right away.

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The best part of this smoothie in my humble opinion, is the dates. They add just the right amount of sweetness that balances the kale really well. I love kale, but if you aren’t fond of its raw flavour but love it’s nutritious value than this smoothie is perfect for you.
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Here’s my version of the Green with Envy Smoothie Adapted from The Green Bean Cafe NYC

{Serves 2}

What you need:

3 dates pits removed
1.5 cups rice milk, almond milk or soy milk
1 banana (I use frozen)
handful of pineapple (I use frozen)
handful of kale washed and de-ribbed.
2 Tbsp Chia seeds

What you need to do:

1. Add the milk in first then the kale, pineapple, banana and dates.
2. blend until nice and smooth (making sure there are no chunks of dates left behind)
3. Add the Chia seeds and blend quickly to incorporate (I do this so they don’t all stick to the sides)
4. Pour and enjoy!

Spicy Shrimp Tacos with a Crunchy Cilantro Lime Slaw

I usually wait until I can take the perfect photos of my meals or baked goods before I post them. But I am starting to see that this need for perfection is actually holding me back from posting on this beloved blog of mine. I’m not taking away from the fact that I love photoshoots. I get a thrill from the planning, styling, composing, photographing and editing that goes along with food photography and I will continue to practice these skills every chance I get. But sometimes my best creations happen after work when the sun is low and the photo ops are slim and my iphone is already by my side. So I decided to go ahead and post this recipe on here without a “perfected” photo. That’s ok right? My iphone certainly captures more of my meals than my SLR ever has (anyone who follows me on Instagram knows this). So for anyone wondering, I am basically just giving myself permission to do things a little differently. I am not a perfectionist… nope. 

I was looking for something quick, light and healthy for dinner the other day, so I though shrimp would be a nice change for a hot summer day. The meal took me 30 min from start to finish, so when I say easy, I mean it, and did I mention they are delicious? Spicy shrimp topped with a crunchy cilantro, lime slaw, some fresh avocado, crumbled feta cheese and a squeeze of fresh lime juice to finish it off? How can anyone resist? I have to confess that I have since made it again and have eaten it about 4 times in the last 7 days. They are highly addictive, you have been warned.

Recipe adapted from pinch of yum 

Heres what you need:

Crunchy Cilantro Lime Slaw
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup green onions
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 small cloves garlic (or more if you love garlic)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • The juice of 2 limes
  • ½ cup greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2-3 cups shredded cabbage (green or purple works the same)
For the Shrimp Tacos
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • 1 teaspoon each chili powder, korean red pepper powder, paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 pepper
  • 8 small corn tortillas (I used flour because my grocery store only had that at the time)
  • 1-2 avocados
  • Feta cheese and additional cilantro for topping
  • lime wedges for serving
 What you need to do:
1. Start by peeling and de-veining all the shrimp and patting them dry.
2. Add all the ingredients for the slaw (except the cabbage and the yogurt/sour cream) into a food processor and pulse until smooth then add the yogurt in and pulse until smooth. Set aside
3. Coat the shrimp with the spice mixture and heat a skillet on medium high, add some coconut oil and cook shrimp well, flipping every few minutes until they are cooked through.
6. Heat tortillas on a clean dry pan and toss the cabbage together with some sauce until evenly coated.
7. Assemble tortillas with shrimp, some slaw, some mashed up avocado and a sprinkle of feta cheese on top, a little drizzle of the leftover cilantro lime sauce and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
8. Enjoy! Try not to eat these more than once in one week I dare you.

Tropical Melon Blast Smoothie

It has been a windy road these past few months. There have been ups, many downs and sharp turns in unpredictable directions, explaining why I haven’t contributed to this little space of mine on the internet in over 3 months. At least I have stayed active on Instagram, right? My last post was from when I was still living in NYC and I can’t believe it has been that long since I have been back home in Montreal. So many things have happened in such a short amount of time and i’ve faced a lot of challenges and forks in the road along the way. With that, I have learned some valuable lessons and am coming to terms with the fact that life is just one big surprise and that the key to living a happy life is to not take it all too seriously and roll with the punches, but ask me if I find that easy?? At least I am working towards it becoming my mantra, and that alone has made me a happier person. I can say that for sure.

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I am finally starting to settle down now after being in complete limbo for the past 3 months. With all these big changes happening all at once, the challenge is finding my rhythm again, but as the dust settles I am finding it easier and easier to get back into my old, but good routines, like making weekly meal plans so that I spend less and eat well and making fruit and veggie packed smoothies every morning to start the day off on the right foot. Here’s where the point of this post comes in. While I don’t think smoothies need a recipe, sometimes the concoctions you come up with need to be written down so they can be enjoyed again and again, and this is one of them! I’m a smoothie fan, not only for their delicious nutritional value, but because they are a really convenient way to stay full in between breakfast and lunch while at work. You can just sip on them in between phone calls and emails, it’s great!

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Having recently learned about FODMAP’S (Click to learn more) I wanted to create a smoothie using only low fodmap fruits and veggies. Having a fickle stomach, which I am sure many of you can relate too, I want to see if this could be a solution for me. Haven’t figured that out yet, but i’ll keep you posted.

This smoothie is packed with sweet honeydew, hearty kale and a tropical twist with banana and pineapple and some chia seeds for that extra nutritious boost. This is a super refreshing drink to have on a hot summers day. Hope you enjoy it!

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Tropical Melon Blast Smoothie

(Serves 2)

1 cup of cubed Honeydew

1 cup of frozen pineapple

1/2 frozen banana

Small handful of kale (ribs removed)

1 cup of rice milk

2 tbsp chia seeds

Blend all the ingredients together and serve it up nice and cold for a nutritious morning or afternoon snack!

Raspberry Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

I think this will have to be my last pancake post for a while, I may be overdoing it with pancakes on this little blog, but I needed to post this one. I’ll be really honest with you all…I have not been good to my body lately. My sugar consumption is through the roof, I can’t even start to explain how much I have been craving it lately. I haven’t done yoga in a couple of weeks, and I have been eating carbs by the truck load and let me tell you, I am feeling it. You know when you feel sluggish and drained? I have made a promise to myself to get back on track asap. Meaning warm lemon water in the morning, healthy breakfasts and balanced meals with lots of whole foods and less carbs. I also need to start doing yoga again at least 3 times a week. Maybe writing this on the blog will help me keep my promise… maybe? I just find winter makes me want to eat all sorts of comfort foods that aren’t necessarily good for me, and sit around in my comfy clothes reading and watching tv. I am seriously dying for spring, it’s always these last 2 months of winter that really get to me.

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Pancakes are not typically a healthy breakfast, but as much as I believe in treating my body right, I also believe balance is the key to everything and I don’t think missing out on foods that make you happy is the way to go. All in moderation, and if you are consuming more of the good stuff then the not so good stuff, you’re on the right track.
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These pancakes are a good start in the right direction since they are made with whole wheat flour, rolled oats, natural sugar, rice milk and fresh fruits. Served with a healthy smoothie on the side, and you have a healthy weekend breakfast that doesn’t really feel that healthy!
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What I love about pancakes is you can really play around with them, you can substitute the flours and sugars and you could make them with any fruit really. I chose raspberries because they have a great balance of sweet and tart which I love. Served with pure maple syrup, which I often use to sweeten most of my baked goods, adds the right amount of sweetness to complete this breakfast. Try these out next weekend for a great, healthier alternative to your favourite pancake recipe.
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Raspberry Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes Recipe

What you will need: 

Raspberry Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

1 cup rice milk (or any kind of milk you like)

2 tbsp baking powder

1/2 cup oats blended in a food processor

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 egg

1 tsp coconut oil

pinch of salt

1 tblsp maple syrup + more for serving

Fresh or frozen raspberries

Strawberry Banana Smoothie 

(Serves 2)

2 cups frozen strawberries

1 whole banana (frozen is preferable)

2.5 – 3 cups of rice milk (or any milk of your choice)

1 tbsp or more to taste pure maple syrup

1/4 cup rolled oats *optional*

What you need to do: 

Raspberry Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

1. In a food processor blend the rolled oats until they resemble a flour like consistency. Sift together the flour, blended oats, baking powder.

2. To the dry ingredients add the egg, coconut oil, salt, maple syrup and the rice milk. Blend with a whisk until smooth.

3. On Medium low heat, add a little coconut oil. Ladle in the batter to the size you want and add a few raspberries to each pancake (I like to cover the raspberries with a little extra batter so they don’t burn on the pan when flipped). Let the pancakes cook until you see bubbles forming in the middle and the sides look dry. Flip and let cook a couple more minutes.

4. Serve with extra raspberries and pure maple syrup!

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

1. In a blender add in the rice milk first then the fruits and maple syrup and blend until smooth.

2. Seve and enjoy!

Citrus Cake with Sweet Lemon Frosting

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I’ve got a confession to make. I baked this on Friday, shot the photos on Saturday, and I have literally eaten one whole loaf to myself since then. I think I woke up in the middle of the night mumbling “i’ve eaten too much lemon cake”. It’s really bad. This recipe is highly addictive so I am warning you well in advance, do not bake it unless you have amazing self restraint because it’s not exactly healthy… it’s cake people, don’t let the lemons and grapefruits fool you!
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If you are looking for a light dessert then this is it. It’s delicious along side a cup of tea, or on it’s own and it has the right amount of sweetness to it with bright citrus flavour that takes over and makes your tastebuds dance. The icing is the perfect balance of sweet and tart, I could eat it by the spoonful. I’m telling you, this cake is a drug and writing this is making me want another slice.

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It’s been so cold lately, and the sun is often hidden behind grey clouds, so baking with bright citrus fruits exploding with flavour was the perfect pick me up this weekend. I think it may have had an effect on the weather because yesterday felt like spring! We were finally able to bring Winslow to the dog park, something we haven’t been able to do in over two weeks. He got soaked head to toe, covered in slush, and we had to throw him in the bath when we got home, but he had a big dog grin on his face which made it all worth it. It was such a great feeling to be able to stand outside and feel the sun beating down on us like a warm hug. Anne Bradstreet said it well – “If we had no winter the spring would not be so pleasant.”  I’m definitely beyond excited for spring! In the meantime, go bake this citrus cake to bring some instant sunshine into your life!

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Citrus Cake Recipe (Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
(Makes 2 loafs)

You will need:

For the cakes:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
1/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice)
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Lemon Icing

½ stick butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon zest

What you need to do:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8 1/2-by-4 1/4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper (optional).

2. Cream butter and 2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Mixing at medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, then add lemon zest.

3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup citrus juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to butter and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Divide batter evenly between pans, smooth tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

4. Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup citrus juice in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves.

5. When cakes are done, let them cool 10 minutes. Invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon lemon syrup over cakes. Let cakes cool completely.

6. For icing, combine in small batches confectioners’ sugar, 4 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth. (I say small batches because powdered sugar will get everywhere). Evenly spread over cakes and allow some of the icing to drizzle down the sides. Let the icing harden before slicing.

Enjoy!