Homemade kale & blue cheese pizza

I have a serious love for pizza, recently a new one for blue cheese. So, this recipe is awesome to say the least since it incorporates both.

What you need:
- Pizza dough (you can make your own but I bought it ready made)
– Kale
– Prosciutto
– Mushrooms (I used shiitake)
– Garlic
– Olive oil
– Blue cheese
– Mozzarella
– Italian seasoning
– Red onion

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Steps:
1) Preheat your oven to 400C.

2) Put flour on top of the counter and roll out your dough. Grease either a pizza pan or baking sheet and put the dough on the pan evenly so the dough touches the corners.

3) Chop up the onions and garlic. Add to a heated saucepan and cook until soft. Add the kale and sliced mushrooms, let them cook slightly then put the mixture in a bowl for later.

4) Time to build! Sprinkle olive oil on the dough then start layering ingredients. I started with the kale, mushroom, red onion and garlic mixture. Then I added prosciutto followed by the mozzarella and chunks of blue cheese.

5) Top with a drizzle of olive oil and Italian seasoning if desired.

6) Cook the pizza for about 20 minutes in the oven. Or when the crust is brown and cheese is melted.

Enjoy!

Find your happiness

I haven’t posted in a very long time – but trust me when I say there’s a good reason for it.

My life has changed pace a little since an incredible opportunity came my way – to travel South America for three months. The continent is one that I’ve been dying to discover for years, but there was one hiccup, I had a pretty great life going in Toronto and three months is quite a long time. In the end I decided that I would deeply regret never joining my best friend on the great adventure. So, I dropped everything and the past month has been devoted to planning the trip, which is now two weeks away.

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Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Some people think dropping everything and going at the age of 25 is risky and irresponsible, but I want to challenge those people. Yes, I left a job. Yes, I will miss my boyfriend and family. Lastly yes, I will miss Toronto and the comfort of home. All of these are legitimate concerns and leaving my job was a sad day and a hard decision in itself, but in the end what I am going to get out of this journey will surpass anything living in the comforts of home will get me for those three months.

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Machu Picchu, Peru

I wanted to write about this because I have a strong belief in travel. Or, on a broader note, the power of doing what you believe is best for you. It’s hard to push through when people tell you that your decision may be a wrong one, but if your gut and heart tells you to do it you probably should. Mind you, these people will likely have legitimate concerns, and you should take them in consideration as I did, but you know what’s best for you. I had the same issues and feelings when I moved to Banff and when I went to Europe for three months alone – both were two of the best things I have ever done in my life.

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Santiago, Chile

Everyone will always have thoughts on the decisions you make and what you want to do. As long as you believe in what you’re doing, not putting yourself at risk and following what you know will make you a happier person, then you should do what your heart tells you.

If anyone has ever been to South America and would like to send over some ideas of what my travel partner and I should do, or what you recommend please do! We will be in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru.

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Ilha Grande, Brazil

How to satisfy your inner health nut

I’ve got to say – being in Toronto has made eating healthy difficult.

It’s not as if I eat terribly. I try and cook dinner and bring a lunch to work when I can, but it can be hard. It’s just that everything they make in restaurants looks so much better!

Here are five realistic steps for all those food lovers out there who aren’t willing to sacrifice grilled cheese, tacos and Pizzaiolo but want to eat a little better.

1) If you ate lunch already, don’t eat a second one.
I can’t count the number of times this has happened to me. To prove to myself I’m healthy, I’ll bring a lunch, then go for a walk down Queen Street. The problem is there’s countless food options that beat my lunch by a landslide. Yet, even though I’ve eaten – I buy a mini poutine anyways. Don’t do it. You really don’t need lunch number two. Trust me. I regret it every time.

2) Make lunch with your dinner.
When you’re making dinner, just make some extra for lunch. My issue is always making way more than needed, but instead of saving some for lunch, I eat it. This always makes me feel too full and sick. Just save it for lunch –  you’re saving money and being healthy at the same time. Double winning!

3) Eat the food you bought.
We’ve all been through it – opening the fridge after a week and realizing we didn’t eat half the produce we bought and SURPRISE, it’s gone bad. If you go home and cut up all your vegetables right away, it’s more likely you’ll eat them faster.

4) Use Pinterest.
Seriously. It’s amazing for recipes. Most of what I make is based off of what I find on Pinterest. Even if you don’t feel like eating it that night – Pin it and save it for later.

5) Avoid the danger zones.
These are stores like the Dollar Store and Bulk Barn – stay away. Trust me on this, I live next to a Dollar Store – it’s a dangerous place. Have you been down those candy aisles? Try and reserve these trips for nights of indulging and just buy massive bags of candy like I do.

Flashback: Europe

One year ago today I was hanging out in London, England on day three of my big solo two and a half month Eurotrip. Going alone was scary. Especially because I hadn’t done a big backpacking trip before, but if I’ve learned anything it’s that you shouldn’t let a bit of fear drag you down, because the best can come out of it.

In light of thinking about my travels I thought I would share five of my favourite memories and spots while I was flailing around Europe.

1) Food Market – Barcelona, Spain
This was not only one of my favourite markets, it was one of the best meals I had. The market is insane – people running around, yelling Spanish words I couldn’t understand but an incredible place to be. That plate of mushrooms you see down there, I’ll be craving them for the rest of my life.

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2) The Arc de Triomphe – Paris, France
I didn’t go up the Eiffel Tower. I’m sure it would have been great, but I also thought I could get views of Paris in other ways. Compared to the Eiffel Tower, it’s pretty cheap to go up the Arc de Triomphe (10 Euros if I remember correctly). I didn’t want to go down after I was at the top – it was simply stunning.

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3) Croatia – All of it
If you’re in Europe, try as hard as you can to make it to Croatia. Their tourism has skyrocketed in the past years and there’s a good reason for it. It’s cheap, beautiful and the locals are surprisingly nice. The national parks (specifically the Plitvice Lakes), views and beaches are what stand out. If you love fresh figs like I do, they hang off the trees there. It’s a fig-lovers paradise.

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4) Jumping off boats – Corfu, Greece
This was just too much fun not to put in the list. We went on a boat tour around the island stopping for lunch and in random spots to jump off the boat. Oh, and there were drinks available for 1 Euro. Yes, just 1 Euro. If you’re in Greece and on one of the islands, I would highly recommend looking into a day trip on a boat.

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5) This view – Switzerland
I’m going to be honest, I can’t remember exactly where this is since I was on a bus heading to my next destination. What I can tell you though, is I had one of those ‘aha’ moments when I saw this. Switzerland in general has incredible views like this. This one however, is why I love to travel and inspire people to take that leap of faith.

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Saturday night stay-in

This past Saturday I strategically went home to my parent’s house when I knew my brother was working, my mom was out for a birthday and my dad was at the cottage. Why would I do such a thing, you ask?

So I could have a night, completely alone.

I’m not sure about you, but sometimes living in the city can be exhausting. I think we all need a day to sit back, relax and enjoy a glass (or bottle) of wine.

After spending a Saturday night alone, I noticed some awesome things about it.

1) You do what you want to do – I went to Flavourtown
We all have those things we say we’re going to do and we just don’t. When you’re home alone and relaxed, you do it. It really doesn’t even have to be productive. For me, it was binge watching Food Network over a double pepperoni pizza.

2) It’s relaxing, not boring
Some people think they’ll get bored if they just stay in. They’re wrong. These days our lives are rushed, so when we stay in we feel like we aren’t accomplishing anything. In reality, the act of doing nothing (aka relaxing) can help clear your head and de-stress. At least that’s what I found.

3) There’s a lot of thinking involved
I think a lot as it is and last Saturday was an overload of thoughts. Since I was alone, I had time to actually look at my thoughts in perspective allowing things to become a little bit clearer. As clear as it can get for a 25-year-old at least.

4) Motivation happens
With all this thinking happening, motivation is inevitable. Thinking about what you want when you’re alone creates an energy to step up and make it happen. I sat down and actually made a couple of goals for myself that I’ve managed to keep up with (for 6 days at least).

5) It’s not scary to say “I’m staying in tonight”
This staying in on a Saturday night in your mid-twenties stigma is silly. Everyone wants a night alone, don’t be scared to do it. Just remember, those people giving you funny looks are about to spend lots of money at the bar tonight and will probably wish they stayed in when the hangover kicks in.

Chicken Caprese with Arugula salad

I have been waiting to make this Chicken Caprese dinner for months. Thanks to Pinterest and The Novice Chef I was able to make it with only one hiccup – a blistery burn.

Warning – if you decide to make the delicious garlic bread, don’t put your oven on broil and think you can grab that pan with just a towel. Oven mitts are your friends.

Here is what you’re going to need:

  • Chicken breast
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves (minced)
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Basil leaves
  • Buffalo mozzarella slices
  • Balsamic vinegar

Now, I’m not putting measurements in since really, you can put however much you want to eat. Plus, don’t think I want to expose how much garlic I used in this meal.

  1. Start off by heating a bit of the olive oil in a pan. After it’s heated put the chicken breast in until the bottom is browned, then flip it and cover to let it cook through.
  2. While you’re waiting, cut the cherry tomatoes in half, mince the garlic and chop the basil. In another pan heat some more oil and add the garlic, followed by the cherry tomatoes.
  3. Once the cherry tomatoes begin to blister take it off the heat and stir in the basil.
  4. At this point, your chicken may nearly be done cooking. Grab some arugula and lightly mix in some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  5. Add a slice (or two like I did) of the buffalo mozzarella on top of the chicken and the cherry tomato mixture to the pan.
  6. Cover, and let sit until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve immediately with some balsamic vinegar.

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If you’re feeling crazy and want to add some serious goodness to your dinner, here’s how I make garlic bread.

  1. Turn the oven on broil.
  2. Grab a fresh bun and  cut it in half.
  3. Melt a some butter in the microwave.
  4. Add minced garlic (I usually add two cloves or so) to the butter.
  5. Pour the mixture on top of the bread and throw it in the oven.
  6. It doesn’t need long, make sure you’re checking it almost constantly.
  7. Serve immediately.

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At the grocery store a stop at the wine shop was also a priority. I went with one I hadn’t tried before, the Trius Cabernet Franc (featuring my dog Boomer) a perfect pairing and also a new favourite.

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PAINTED: RAD

Last year, I somehow managed to run 10k. Since backpacking Europe, I’ve managed to do the bare minimum when it comes to fitness. It was in February I decided that needed to change. My solution? Sign up for a run that isn’t going to stress me out – Color Me Rad.

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It all started on the right foot, I was using my gym membership for once and eating healthier. By healthier I mean attempting to cook and only eating pizza one to two times per week . After a month of success I switched gears. To a lower one. I virtually stopped going to the gym and was eating pizza and Smoke’s Poutine (double pork to be exact) a little too often, but I was okay with it.

Until it was May 24th.

I had to do this run in one week.

The panic attack ensued.

Then I remembered, this will be fun and a good motivator to start running again. I mean, I did run a 10k last year right? I can do this. So, I went for a couple runs that week, did some yoga and ate healthy. By the time May 31st rolled around, I was ready to go.

All I can say is, everyone should try and do Color Me Rad at least once in their lives. This run is about being carefree, having fun and living life. The best part about it, there’s no pressure. It feels like you’re at a festival, with hundreds of people around you dancing, covered in different colours and letting go, something I think many of us need in the midst of our hectic lives.

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The aftermath – covered in colour!

My first shuck

If you’re a Food Network junkie like me, you see people shucking oysters all the time as if it’s no big deal. To shuck one myself however, is a big deal. That’s why when a friend of mine asked me to join her for an iYellow Wine Club event to taste some wine, eat oysters and cheese, obviously my answer was yes.

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Stoneleigh was the wine of the night, and we tasted two Sauvignon Blanc’s and two Pinot Noir’s. Usually I go for the wine on sale, or try and stay under $10, but after tasting these, my radar for a great wine has gone up a notch.

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After two whites, we had the guts to try shucking an oyster. I was feeling pretty confident, after all my obsession with Chopped and Iron Chef America automatically makes me a food professional, right? We put on our gloves, grabbed our oyster knife and started the process. Don’t kid yourself, muscle is needed and I don’t have much. While my friend ended up shattering the top half of the shell (clearly she has muscles of steel), I could barely get my knife in. My struggles were so apparent I was given an oyster easier to shuck. Bottom line, once given this one, it was much easier and I managed to get it open and eat an oyster I shucked myself.

One simple item on the bucket list, checked!

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Check out what iYellow Wine Club has to offer!

Spaghetti squash with mushrooms and parmesan

After trying this recipe, my love for spaghetti squash came back in full force. So much can be done with it and it’s probably why so many people have fallen head over heels for this special squash.

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This recipe has stolen my heart. Especially because it incorporates three of my other favourite things, mushrooms, garlic and parmesan.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 1 tbsp of thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves (or 3, if you’re obsessed with garlic like me)
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, roughly chopped (depending on your mushroom love level, you might want to add more, I did)
  • 1/8 cup of chopped onions
  • 1/4 parmesan cheese (I decided to add much more than that, it was a great choice)
  • salt and pepper to taste

That’s it!

1) If you haven’t cooked spaghetti squash before, it takes a while. Put the squash in the oven whole at 380 degrees for about an hour. If you can put a knife through the outside easily, it’s ready!

2) In the meantime, cut up the mushrooms, onions and garlic so it’s ready to go.

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3) When the spaghetti squash is done, let it cool a little bit while frying up the onions and garlic until soft. Then add the mushrooms.

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4) While all that is cooking down, cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Then use a fork to scrape the inside into strings.

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5) Add the the spaghetti squash strings to the mushroom, onion and garlic pan and mix them together. Followed by the thyme and some parmesan.

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6) Serve hot and add a bit extra parmesan for all you cheese lovers out there!

What you end up with, is this deliciousness.

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Happy eating!

 

This recipe was found at Pickled Plum

Nemo is in Toronto

It took me way too long to get to Ripley’s Aquarium.

We didn’t do the aquarium the way it was intended. We did it backwards. No, not walking backwards, we started at the end point. How you might ask? Well, here’s my first tip, don’t look to your left and get excited about petting sting rays outside of the gift shop. This is the problem we had and it could make you do the whole entire thing backwards, which is likely just as much fun. If you do happen to get so excited that you can’t help it, no one will understand more than me.

We realized we were going the wrong way when we reached the moving sidewalk. You can step off of it when you see something you just HAVE to stop for and trust me, that will happen. So, our solution was to walk past as fast as possible, not looking at any fish so that we could experience it the right way.

It was awesome, we even had a sawfish smile at us.

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Oh, and a sting ray.

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There was also this cool looking shark.

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Jellyfish all covered in pink were there.

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This crazy fish also joined the party.

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Lastly, I kind of got to swim with Nemo. No big deal.

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Because Toronto has it all; except mountains.

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