Dec
01

True Story: I grew up with margarine. There was NEVER butter in the house as we were Jewish and kept meat and dairy separate. Therefore it was easier just to use margarine.

However when I had my first apartment, I decided to have a dairy kitchen and ONLY to buy butter. I have baked exclusively with butter for the last three decades.

But the other night I was invited to a “Bake with Canola” event. Here’s proof that I was actually baking with Canola!

canola-vicky

Here’s another true story: In my cupboard at the moment is Vegetable Oil and Olive Oil.  No ideas why I have never considered buying Canola Oil. One could easily blame it on my mom – I have a good feeling she never bought Canola either!!

At the event, I learned a few reasons why I should be choosing Canola Oil.

  1. It tastes good: Canola has a neutral flavour that won’t take over. It actually absorbs the flavours of the herbs and spices thats’ in the recipe!
  2. It can “take” high heats: Canola oil has a really high heat tolerance which makes it ideal for frying.
  3. Canola is farmed right here in Canada. Here’s a cool fact: There’s over 43,000 Canola Farmers in the Prairies.
  4. It’s a healthy Choice: Canola Oil is a good source of Vitamin E and K, and is packed with Omega 3 fats. It also has the lowest amount of saturated fat.

The event took place at the Luxe Appliance Studio where we were divided into groups. Each group baked one item from this list.

canola-menu

The evening was hosted by Emily Richards who is a professional home economist, cookbook author, recipe developer and someone who I have been following since she was on TV back in the early 1990’s. Plus the recipes we used were from her new cookbook called Per La Famiglia: Memories and Recipes of Southern Italian Cooking.

At the end of the evening, there was a beautiful dessert buffet all made with Canola Oil!!

canola-final

I can’t wait to start baking and frying with Canola Oil. My pantry now has a 3rd oil to select from and I have a feeling that it will be used very soon. You see, next month I will be frying up some delicious latkes for Chanuka using Canola Oil!!

Fore more information:

Website: Www.CanolaEatWell.Com

Twitter/Instagram: @CanolaEatWell

Disclosure: This is a sponsored blog post however all my opinions are my own.

 

 

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Nov
29

Back in the Gym!!


Once again, Momwhoruns hasn’t been running. Truth be told, I didn’t go to the gym once throughout the entire year. That’s right – not even once.

I wanted to go to the gym but simply didn’t have the physical time or the emotional strength. Since my dad passed away, I decided to go to synagogue on a daily basis (for either morning services or evening services) for an entire year. Going to services daily was something I had never done before and was a huge commitment. It certainly wasn’t easy but it felt like the right thing to do and I have no regrets.

gym-candle

My year of mourning has now ended and decided that going back to the gym would also be right thing to do. Guess what? I’m loving it.

gym-vicky

My sister was getting great results (Yay Mandy) with a trainer and I decided to take the plunge as well and ask her trainer for some assistance.

Erin has a company called “30 In 30 Fitness.Which means $30 for 30 minutes of Fitness. LOVE IT. This concept fits my schedule and my budget. What’s not to love?

She’s got me doing a whole bunch of exercises that don’t require a gym or fancy equipment.

shoes-3

Not to mention I’m being more “mindful” of what I’m eating. Which is half the battle ..in my humble opinion.

I was so inspired that I even created a Pinterest Board with more exercise suggestions. Take a minute and check it out by clicking here!

I haven’t weighed myself but after two weeks I know that I’m less bloated. There’s something about getting off  NETFLIX or off of my computer and moving my body that actually feels good.

Not sure I’m signing up for a 10 km race this year but I’m definitely signing up to “get off the couch”. Know what I mean?

Looking forward to a healthier 2017.

Cheers!

 

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Nov
27

A Lousy Day But A Great Burger


A few weeks ago I had a lousy day which started off at 8:10 am when I dropped my car keys down the elevator shaft.

Don’t ask. Not my best moment.

Luckily I’m a CAA member. Therefore a CAA tow truck whisked my car to a Nissan dealership that was luckily only a kilometre away. I then discovered that it would take 1.5 hours to program a key for my beloved Versa – at a total cost of $232. It was still half the cost of an elevator technician so I wasn’t complaining.

nissan-key

During the 1.5 hours I had to kill, I ventured out out to walk along Avenue Road. I did some prospecting (as always) and then realized it was time for lunch and  decided to grab a burger at South St. Burger. This restaurant has always been a favourite of mine. Not to mention that this sign made me laugh. Oh how I love clever marketing.

south-st-sign

I had a burger that I believe is the “Better Choice”.  The fact that it contained a fresh 6 oz beef patty made from 100% Angus beef, raised without antibiotics, hormones and prepared without any preservatives or additives certainly appealed to me.  Definitely the “Better Choice.”

What I also love about this restaurant is that you can customize your burger (or hot dog, or chicken burger) with over 30 traditional and gourmet condiments. There’s everything from dill pickles to dijon horseradish, guacamole and mango chutney at no extra charge. Premium toppings include a selection of five real cheeses, grilled ginger glazed pineapple, Applewood smoked bacon, and sautéed mushrooms.#YUM

I always seem to select: mango chutney, guacamole, lettuce, tomato and dill pickles. Time in and time out!! There’s something about this combination that makes me feel like I’m getting spoiled.

south-st-burger

South St. Burger is the “better” choice – hands down!!

This time, I didn’t order the french fries or the onion rings (even though they looked really good). I also was tempted to try their milkshakes as they are made with 2 scoops of real ice cream. #next time

I must admit that South St. Burger cheered me up on a pretty lousy day.

Other fun facts about South St. Burger.

  • It is 100% independently Canadian owned and operated
  • There are more than 35 locations across Canada from coast to coast and two in Dubai.
  • They also offer Gluten Free Buns

Hope you get a chance to visit a South St. Burger one day soon as well (minus the hassle of losing your keys). LOL. With South St. Burger, dinner just got better.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this blog post however all my opinions are my own.

 

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Nov
24

Two Great Side Dishes!


The other week, I tried TWO new side dishes and both were “blog-worthy”.  So here I am on a Thursday night sharing these two recipes with you. Both these recipes were not only tasty but I could make them in advance, which comes in handy when you work full time and have guests coming over.

Israeli Couscous Stuffed Butternut Squash Bowls (original recipe from A Communal Table)

Ingredients

4 butternut squash (I bought one and cut it into quarters)
6 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Israeli couscous
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 cups vegetable stock (I used water)

1 cup shallots, sliced
4 cups fresh baby spinach, stemmed
1 Tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup shelled, toasted pistachios

Instructions

  1. Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil.
  2. Peel the butternut squash and cut the butternut squash just above where the squash begins to flare out. (as you can see from the photo – I didn’t peel the squash)
  3. Using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp as you would with a pumpkin. (NOTE: this was the hardest part of the recipe)

squash-bowl

4. Using a pastry brush, brush 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil inside the squash and over the outside.

5. Roast the squash in the 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until the squash is just fork tender but not mushy! Remove the squash from the oven and cool.

TO MAKE THE COUSCOUS FILLING

7.  Place the dried cherries in a small bowl and cover with warm water. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the couscous and stir for 5 minutes to toast the couscous.
Add the garam masala and cook for another minute.
Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Simmer for 10 -15 minutes or until all the stock is absorbed and the couscous is all dente – tender but still firm.

8. In a medium skillet over medium high heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes or until the shallots are tender and lightly browned. Add the spinach and cook for another 3 minutes or until the spinach is wilted.
9. Drain the cherries and add them to the spinach mixture.
10. Add the couscous and stir to combine.
11. Add the pepper and sherry vinegar and stir to combine.

12. Fill each butternut squash with the couscous mixture.
Place on the foil lined sheet pan and re heat in a 375 degree oven until the squash is heated through. Serve.

FINAL RESULT..isn’t it gorgeous? I got fancy and added some crumbled feta and pomegranate seeds too!

squash-final

Recipe #2:  Cauliflower With Pumpkin Seeds, Brown Butter and Lime  (original recipe from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large head of cauliflower
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves with tender stems for serving
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 450°.

1. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with 1 Tbsp. oil.

2. Slice cauliflower and arrange cauliflower slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until underside is deeply browned, 20–25 minutes. Turn cauliflower over, season with salt and pepper, and continue to roast until other side is dark brown and crisp, 15–20 minutes longer.

3. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium.

4. Add pumpkin seeds, bring to a simmer, and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until pumpkin seeds are toasted and butter is browned and smells nutty, 6–8 minutes.  (it’s freakin’ delicious)

brown-butter

 

Remove from heat and add red pepper flakes; let cool 10 minutes. Add chopped cilantro and lime juice; season with salt and pepper.

5. Arrange cauliflower on a serving platter and drizzle with dressing. Serve topped with cilantro leaves.

FINAL RESULT

cauliflower-final
I would make both of these recipes again but I know myself and will be scouring Pinterest for more recipes to try. What on earth is wrong with me? ARGHH.

In fact we have guests coming over next weekend and I’ve already started looking at Pinterest for new recipes. Please take a peek at my Pinterest Food Board and tell me what you think!

Happy Cooking!!

 

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Nov
22

Recently I’ve been introduced to two products that are making my life SO much easier more organized.

Item #1: P-touch Label Maker (by brother)

brother-label

Here’s a few features that I’m loving:

• Large, easy-type keyboard and convenient top loading tape design. (seriously it took me a few minutes to figure it out – and trust me I’m challenged in this area)

• Large, graphical display which  lets you view text and layout before printing.

• Intuitive one-touch keys support quick, easy label formatting.

• Create detailed labels with up to 2 lines of text and graphics.

• Create labels for indoor or outdoor use. (very cool)

• Split back tapes for easy peel and stick. (easy peasy)

• Select the language of your choice

• 1-year limited warranty and free support for the life of your product.

I immediately used my labeller to help me organize my closet. Now I can find my upcoming Chanuka Decorations in seconds. #happydance

brother-chanuka-decor

Plus I can find my cords in seconds. (how on earth did I accumulate so many cords?Don’t ask!!)brother-cords

Item #2 – A Mobile Colour Scanner (by brother)

brother-box-scanner

As a sales rep, I’m always asked to scan forms and receipts back to head office. I hate to say it but it takes a whole whack of time when using the scan feature on my printer. Not to mention as a blogger, I’m also asked to sign the occasional contract and send it back to a publicist. Now I can use this handy printer that takes no space at all with no need to click, click, click  (you know what I mean)

Again, this scanner has some cool features:
• Scans up to 8 ppm in both colour and black&white
• Powerful software bundle including document and business card management programs.
• Compact and lightweight
• Powered via the included USB cable – no wall outlet required (HOW COOL IS THAT?)
• Easily scans documents, photos, plastic I.D. cards and more, from business card size up to 8.5″(W) x 32″(L)

I’m over the moon how small and compact this scanner is. The fact that it doesn’t require any batteries is a huge bonus!

brother-scanner
Disclosure: Both items were provided to me, however all opinions are my own

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Nov
20

St. Clair Ave West is now home to yet another fabulous restaurant. I’m not kidding I can count about 6 restaurants on this street that I adore

Ji opened about a month ago and is brought to you by the same owners as Pukka. Ji is described as an Indian Gastropub which means there’s a great cocktail list (Chutney Mary, Chai Flip, Tamarind Margarita  etc) as well as shareable plates/mains and desserts. This sign says it all!

ji-indian-grub

Not only am I fan of the food, but I think they did a great job with the decor as well.

ji-space

I usually pay no attention to the art in a restaurant, but this piece was noticed!!

ji-art

We went with another couple and shared a variety of vegetarian dishes. Every single dish was flavourful and I wouldn’t hesitate to order them on another visit.

CHILI TOFU – pan tossed with onions and peppers.

ji-tofu

SWEET POTATO CHAAT – with yogurt, tamarind and mint chutney

ji

SEMOLINA PUFFS – filled with chickpeas, potato, yogurt and chutney

ji-stuffed

CAESAR SALAD – Romaine hearts, roasted chickpeas, smoky coconut “bacon bits’ with a vegan cashew dressing

ji-salad

 

TRIO OF CHUTNEYS with Papadums

ji-papadum

I’m looking forward to my next visit at which time I’m going to order some non vegetarian dishes like: Hakka Shrimp, Naanchos, and Chicken Purris. Can you tell that I’ve been studying the menu? I really can’t wait to grab another couple and visit.

Congratulations Derek and Harsh for opening (and creating) yet another fabulous restaurant.

For more information about Ji. 

Address: 760 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto

Phone: 416 792 5550

Twitter/Instagram: @HelloJiToronto

Facebook: Www.facebook.com/HelloJiToronto

 

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Nov
17

I’d like to take a bet that it would be hard to find someone who doesn’t like macaroni and cheese. It’s comfort food at it’s best.

Plus it’s easy to make. I think it was probably the first thing I learned to make on my own when I was a teenager coming home at lunch time!!

These days, Italpasta has introduced a macaroni and cheese that has 100 percent Canadian wheat and real Canadian cheese. Added bonus: No artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. I’m all too happy to support this concept of using Canadian ingredients. Wouldn’t you agree?

italpasta-box

The other night I made macaroni and cheese and brought it to another level of yummy-ness.

Heres’ four secret ingredients: (which clearly aren’t a secret anymore{

  1. Add 5% cream instead of milk. What a difference. (or use both!!)
  2. Add panko and more grated cheese on top of the mac and cheese and bake in the oven for 10 minutes
  3. Add a touch of cream cheese.

Bingo, you will have a freakin’ delicious macaroni and cheese to serve.

italpasta-final

Trust me. Everyone will be digging into this dish.

Another tip I received on facebook when I posted the above photo included:

-try making the mac and cheese in a slow cooker. Apparently it comes out really really creamy. (which I’ve never done before)

The other tip I would like to share is that this dish freezes beautifully. This means, I always make a big batch and then freeze it for those nights when I come home and I’m too tired to cook (you know what I mean, right?)

Happy Cooking!

For more information: www.Italpasta.com

Disclosure: I was compensated for this blog post however all opinions are my own.

 

 

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Nov
13

Healthy to Not-So-Healthy!!


I try hard to participate in Meatless Mondays and thought I would share what I made last week. This plate contains; arugula salad with shaved parmesan and tomatoes, wilted spinach, and cucumber noodles topped with sesame seeds. Not bad for Meatless Monday eh?

banana-healthy-meal

This meal should be called: Three Shades of Green!!

An hour later, I had a “not-so-healthy” moment as I had discovered a recipe on Pinterest (click on the link to see my Food Board. Hint)  that I always wanted to try: Banana Fritters.

Before I knew it, I was whipping up dry ingredients and mixing them into the wet ingredients. Then I was DEEP FRYING. I even brought out a thermometer to make sure the oil was hot enough!

banana-final

Here’s the recipe for this super easy but not-so-healthy-dessert:

Banana Fritters (recipe courtesy of OMG Chocolate Desserts)

Ingredients

Approximately 4 large bananas

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup plain greek yogurt

1 egg white

Vegetable oil for frying

Powdered sugar for dusting…(I used cinnamon)

Instructions

  1. Peel bananas and cut into 1.5 inch long pieces .
  2. In a bowl mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Add egg white and yogurt into dry ingredients and stir well with a wooden spoon until it’s smooth.
  4. Heat about 2 inch oil in a frying pan.( Be careful not to over heat the oil or the fritters will be too brown, it should be about 350F). This is an important step!!
  5. Using a fork dip each banana slice into to batter to coat it well and transfer it into oil and fry until it’s golden brown. Work in small batches because you have to work fast. (agreed – I had to work fast. Do not answer the phone or do anything else)
  6. Remove fried fritters to a paper towel lined plate to drain .
  7. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve

Happy Meatless Monday Everyone!!

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Nov
09

I grew up in downtown Ottawa surrounded by hotels so I’ve always been interested in the “hotel scene” in Ottawa. The newest hotel to be introduced to Ottawa has opened up in the fabulous Byward Market area and is called the Andaz Hotel.

The check in process can be done online or on site in their intimate lobby area. Immediately after checking in, I sat down at the bar and enjoyed a complimentary beer. Keep reading as there’s more than just one perk at this hotel!
andaz-vicky Then I checked into my stunning room, that featured very stylish clean decor. I felt like I was in NY but I was in Ottawa!! I love how they incorporated “copper” into so many aspects of the room – the alarm clock, lighting, etc.

andaz-roomEven the bathroom taps were copper and gorgeous.

andaz-taps

My room included COMPLIMENTARY snacks. When was the last time you saw that? What’s better is that they truly support local suppliers and that’s something you rarely see in a major hotel. (the booze on this tray wasn’t free but everything else was).andaz-freeEven the soap supplier for the Andaz Hotel is local. Truly they are committed to supporting their local community!

andaz-soap

As much as I needed to sleep after checking in, I forced myself to go to their 16th floor roof top lounge which overlooks the city. At 5 pm on a weekday, the roof top was busy and everyone was enjoying the fall weather.

andaz-rooftopThere was no need to leave the hotel, as the hotel has a dining room called Feast +Revel . Once again the space is just beautiful. (just like the rest of the hotel!!) and features a menu that really appealed to me.

andaz-dining-roomI dug into this well prepared Elk dish which was described as a 72 hour Elk Ranch elk rib, with a mushroom + salsify, birch jus, sorrel, lemon honey mushroom conserve. andaz-dinnerMy sister (who owns Stunning Ottawa) joined me for dinner and she was super happy with this Steak dish. On the menu its’ described as a Enright Cattle striploin, with lobster butter sauce, dressed baby gem + roasted tomato with Yukon Gold chips. Both of us wanted to drown in the lobster butter sauce!! SO SO good!!

andaz-steak

After dinner, I couldn’t resist going back to the 16th floor to enjoy the views of Ottawa at night.

andaz-night

If you are heading to Ottawa, please consider staying at the Andaz Hotel or dining at Feast + Revel. You won’t be disappointed.

Please note, this hotel is BUSY even though it’s new. Book early #justsayin’.

For more information:

ANDAZ OTTAWA BYWARD MARKET
325 Dalhousie Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1N 7G1
Tel: +1 613 321 1234

Disclosure: I was provided a media rate but all my opinions are my own

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Nov
07

Cruising in a Cruze!


I said “bye bye” to my Versa for a week and happily accepted the keys to a 2016 Chevrolet Cruze. This is clearly evident in this photo.

cruze-vicky

This beautiful car has so many cool features but here’s three features that really were my favourites.

1. This tiny pocket that cools down your phone, when the car is running!

cruze-phone

2. The fact that the steering wheel will heat up. This is certainly a very cool feature when you live in Canada! Bye bye frozen fingers.

cruze-wheel

3. The BOSE sound system. OMG!! I generally do not care about such upgrades but this certainly caught my attention….immediately.

cruze-bose

4. The technology features- certainly appealed to me. (especially seeing as Im in my car all day long as a sales rep and use way too much data).

cruze-tech

5. The fact that I didn’t have to push a button to open the gas tank. I just had to push it and it opened…OLD SCHOOL. This made me smile.

cruze-gas

Just in case you want to know the new features for 2016 – here you go:

-a larger lighter design

-all new standard 1.4L turbo engine. Fuel consumption ration of 5.6 L/100 Km

-stop/start technology with automatic transmission enhances fuel efficiency in stop-and-go driving (the story of my life as a sales rep who is on the roads in GTA traffic)

-available Android Auto and Apple Car Play compatibility allows smartphone features to integrate apps wth Chevrolet MyLink (yay..yay..yay)

I will be honest, I have only driven used cars since I started driving at the age of 30. However after driving this car, I swear I would I consider buying a new car. I was totally in love with all these features.

This car certainly is on my radar.

cruze-car

Disclosure: This is a sponsored blog post however all opinions are my own.

For more information:

Website: http://www.chevrolet.ca/2016-cruze-compact-car.html

Twitter and Instagram: @ChevroletCanada

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