How To Defrost Chicken Quickly & Safely

This might be a no-brainer for most people, but I didn't know about this method until my Mother-In-law introduced me to it a couple years ago. My Mom always used the countertop method of thawing meat, but it may not be the safest method available and it is also not quite as quick as the method I will describe below.
To thaw chicken safely and quickly follow the steps below:
  1. Run a sink full of cold water - you need to use cold water here to avoid potential bacteria growth associated with warm/ hot water. Place chicken in sink.
  2. Change water every 30 minutes and replace with fresh cold water until chicken is completely thawed.
Some important notes:
  • 1 lb of chicken will defrost in 1-2 hours using this method
  • Don't use the sink for any other purpose during this time - this will help avoid contamination
  • When chicken is done thawing rinse your sink out thoroughly with hot water and a good multi-purpose cleaner to kill any bacteria that may have accumulated
  • This method works for any type of frozen meat - defrost times may vary depending on type and amount of meat

This is a pretty straightforward and efficient option for thawing frozen meat. A lot of people use their microwaves to thaw meat when they're in a hurry, but doing so can actually be dangerous as heating the meat during the defrost process gives bacteria a chance to grow and accumulate. As a result I would encourage you to use this method of thawing meat quickly and safely!

How do you usually defrost your frozen meat? What do you do to ensure you do it safely?


Turkey Stuffed Zucchini Boats

I have been experimenting with healthier meals recently and this was one of my awesome recipe finds! I found it on Pinterest and it is from Recipe Girl which is written by Lorie Lane. Her website is full of amazing recipes and beautiful pictures! Hop on over and check it out - I'll still be here when you get back.

This recipe is great because you can really mix it up by varying the meat, the vessel, the cheese etc. Be creative and try different combinations!

Here is my version of the recipe - I stuck pretty close to Lorie's version and just changed a couple things based on personal preference and what I had on hand. You can check out the original recipe here.

Turkey Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Recipe minimally adapted from Recipe Girl

  • Four medium zucchini, ends trimmed then cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb hot Italian turkey sausage
  • 1/2 cup tex mex shredded cheese blend
  • 3/4 cup roasted garlic marinara sauce
  • 3 tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a baking tray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Use a small spoon to hollow out the zucchini halves - don't scrape all the way to the skin, just hollow out a nice spot to put your stuffing. Place pulp onto your cutting board, roughly chop it up and place it in a medium bowl.
  3. Place a medium skillet over medium heat. Add sausage, zucchini pulp, and onions. Sauté until onions are soft and sausage is cooked through and starting to brown. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Pour mixture through fine mesh sieve to drain off excess moisture from zucchini and any oil from the sausage. Transfer meat mixture to a medium bowl. Add all but two tbsp. of the cheese to the meat mixture, along with the marinara sauce and the basil. Stir til combined adding salt and pepper to taste if desired.
  4. Divide meat mixture between hollowed out zucchini, mounding each one and pressing firmly into cavity. Set the filled zucchini halves on prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining two tbsp. of cheese - adding extra cheese if desired.
  5. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes or until zucchini boats are tender.

 The original recipe called for one full cup of cheese, but since I'm trying to eat healthier and consume less fat, I cut that amount down. You can add the full amount of cheese if you're not as calorie conscious (seriously jealous right now if you're that person).

 Next time I make this recipe I am going to sauté some mushrooms as well and mix them in with the meat mixture to add a little extra bulk! But overall we really, really enjoyed this recipe and I will definitely be making it again in the near future.

Happy Cooking my Friends!


{Guest Post} Rainbow Cupcakes!

Hi Friends! Today I have a super special post for you! I'm so excited about it that I couldn't even wait til tonight to post it! I have a very special guest post for you today - let me introduce my lovely cousin Tracey. Tracey is an amazing mother of two kids who is a spectacular cook and baker! She has a heart of gold and is always there to help out her friends and family when they need it. I'm going to turn it over to Tracey to tell you all about how to make her super cool rainbow cupcakes!

Finding the perfect chocolate and vanilla cupcake recipe was starting to feel like a chore, until I looked in my Canadian living baking cookbook.  This is my go to recipe for a good tasting cupcake and it’s a big bonus that it is really moist as well.  These cupcakes freeze really well if you are in a big rush just put them in a good freezable container.  Take them out about 3-4 hours before you need them, that is plenty of time for them to thaw.

 Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
Prepare two 12 cup muffin pans by lining with paper liners or spraying with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla. In a separate bowl sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Make three additions of dry ingredients and two of buttermilk. Pour into prepared cupcake trays and bake in the centre of 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

Vanilla cupcakes:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
Prepare two 12 cup muffin pans by lining with paper liners or spraying with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each; beat in vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into butter mixture alternately with buttermilk. Make three additions of dry and two of buttermilk. Pour into prepared cupcake trays and bake in the centre of 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

Vanilla buttercream icing:

I love this icing because it is easy to make but it is also tastes really good. Not too much butter and not too much sugar either. It is a very thick icing so it is a great one if you are going to do a lot of piping. If you are not wanting it as thick you can add a little more whipped cream, although I haven’t tried this.

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 5 cups icing sugar
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla
In a large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar and cream, making 2 additions of sugar. Beat in vanilla. You can also make the icing the day before but take it out at least one hour before you want to use it and make sure you whip it up before using. To make the rainbow colors I used gel food coloring available at Walmart and most baking supply stores. I slowly added the color and kept mixing until I got the vibrant colors that I wanted. You can assemble them as pictured below to create a rainbow shape on a cake board, or just leave them as is.

Thanks so much for preparing this great post and sharing your recipes Tracey! I hope you all enjoyed this post as much as I did! Happy Baking my Friends!


Easy & Healthy Iced Tea

The weather is really starting to heat up around here - a sure sign summer is finally here! With the increase in the temperature, I've been on the lookout for some refreshing summer drinks that aren't full of calories. I noticed they're hard to find! So I decided to make my own iced tea!

I headed down to my local farmers market and found a booth selling some delicious tea and picked out cream of earl grey and cream of blueberry. Both sounded lovely to me, but you can really use any tea you want! Try to use high quality tea to avoid bitterness in your tea.

To make your iced tea - place 6 tsp of loose tea in a liquid measuring cup. Pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over top and steep for five minutes. Don't steep for any longer or your tea will get bitter. Meanwhile, fill a pitcher 1/4 full with ice cold water.

 Once your tea is finished steeping, strain the mixture - putting the tea liquid into your prepared pitcher and discarding the tea. Fill the pitcher to the top with cold water. Serve tea over ice and garnish with slices of citrus fruits - I used lemons and oranges, but lime or grapefruit would be good too depending on the type of tea you're serving. I didn't need to sweeten mine, but if you must - sweeten it with honey!

This is such a simple, delicious and healthy alternative to other sugar-laden beverages we associate with summer. Give it a try - you might be surprised how delicious and refreshing it tastes!

 What's your favorite summer beverage that is easy on your waistline while still being refreshing?



Honey Roasted Carrots & Zucchini

This weekend has been a marathon of cooking and baking for my hubby's birthday party. Part of the menu was honey roasted carrots and zucchini. I wasn't going to blog these, but when I posted a picture on instagram, I received so many requests for the recipe, that I am posting now!

I don't have much to say about these other than that they are easy, taste delicious and are super healthy (as long as you keep the amount of oil at a reasonable amount). They're the perfect summer veggie to accompany your meal.

Honey Roasted Carrot and Zucchini
Minimally adapted from Meals in Heels

  • 6 carrots, cut into 3/4 inch batons
  • 4 zucchini - I used 1 zucchini, 2 grey zucchini and one yellow zucchini, cut into 3/4 inch batons
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place carrot and zucchini in a bowl and toss with oil and honey. Sprinkle over the cumin and mustard seeds and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until golden and tender.
Pretty simple and very delicious! Hope you enjoy these as much as we did. The cumin and mustard seeds really take this recipe up a notch!

Happy Cooking my Friends!


Mexican Haystacks

Dinner is Served!

I hadn't originally planned on blogging this casual dinner, but due to much demand after I posted this {see above} photo on Facebook, I am now posting the recipe! Unfortunately I don't have any spectacular photos to share with you as there weren't any leftovers. This was such a yummy and healthy dinner idea! I will be making it over and over again as I'm sure you will be once you try it!

I found this recipe on the blog Whole and Free which is a blog about one family's journey to eating healthier. Check out her blog for some amazing photos of these Mexican Haystacks!

Mexican Haystacks
minimally adapted from Whole and Free


2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1 onion chopped
3 small cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups fresh salsa (I used fresh is best brand - it took two containers of it)

1 avocado, chopped
1 mango, chopped
1 red pepper chopped
hot sauce for drizzling
fresh cilantro for garnish

1. Start your rice cooking (stovetop or rice cooker is fine). Then brown your turkey and onion until cooked through. Add garlic and stir til fragrant. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add salsa, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered for 20 minutes.
2. While your rice and salsa mixture cook, prep your topping ingredients - you can use whatever you like!
3. Once your rice is cooked, stir through almost all of your chopped cilantro, reserving some for garnish. Scoop rice onto your plate, top with turkey-salsa mixture then sprinkle on toppings as desired. Serve immediately.

{Note - you can easily make this vegetarian by omitting the turkey and using veggies and/ or chickpeas}

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did! I love how simple and quick it is to pull together. Your family can have fun thinking of delicious topping ideas and kids will love assembling their haystack the way they like it!

Happy Cooking my Friends!


Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Wednesday peeps! The week is more than half over - you can do it!! These cookies got me revved up about baking again - they're delicious and totally different than any chocolate chip cookie I've ever had. They have a secret ingredient - coconut oil!

 If you're worried about how expensive coconut oil is, let me tell you a little secret! You don't have to pay loads of money for good quality cold pressed coconut oil!! Go down to your local Costco and load up- they had huge jars of really good quality stuff on for around $20! Stop paying the ridiculous prices at grocery stores and health food stores! You absolutely don't need to.

 I found this recipe on the Well Traveled Wife. Head on over there and check out her site - it seems like a good one with lots of yummy recipes. And if this recipe is any testament to the quality of her recipes, her blog is fantastic!

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from The Well Traveled Wife

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 - 1 cup shredded coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, cream the coconut oil and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time beating until incorporated after each addition. Add vanilla and beat til fluffy.
  3. In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, powder and soda. Gradually add to the coconut mixture until just about incorporated (mixing on a very low speed). Add in chocolate chips and coconut and mix til just combined.
  4. Drop by spoonful's onto prepared baking sheets. Bake in pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes until just lightly browned around the edges and still soft in the middle. Let set on tray for 2-4 minutes after removing from oven, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

The coconut oil adds such an amazing flavour to these cookies! You really need to try them. The beauty of these cookies is how quick and easy they come together - none of this finicky cookie stuff! Simple and delicious is all you'll find here!

Happy Baking my Friends!


Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

My hubby and my family have abandoned me this weekend - all off doing their own things, so its just me and the dog all alone all weekend! If you know me, you know that I get bored and lonely pretty fast when I'm all alone! So this morning I was feeling a tad sorry for myself and decided I would make myself a healthy, yet indulgent breakfast. So I surfed the net and came up with Cookie and Kate's blog - about Kate and her dog Cookie. On her blog she had a fantastic sounding recipe for gluten free banana oat pancakes. With a couple modifications due to personal preference, I was on my way! Boy were these delicious! I can't wait to make them again. Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes
Minimally adapted from Cookie & Kate

  • 3 small ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • juice of 1/2 a large lemon
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup oats - pulse 1/2 of them in your food processor to make oat flour and keep the other half whole (I like the texture of oats - if you think you won't like the texture, pulse all of the oats in your food processor)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  1. In a medium bowl, combine mashed bananas and melted coconut oil. Stir well to combine. Then add remaining wet ingredients - lemon juice, honey, vanilla and eggs. Beat until well mixed.
  2. In another medium bowl, combine oat flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir until combined.
  3. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just moistened. Let batter stand for 10 minutes while you heat up your pan or your griddle over medium-low heat.
  4. Using a non-stick pan pour 1/4-1/2 cups of batter onto the pan and flatten with your measuring cup until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Allow to cook until edges are set and bottom is a beautiful golden brown. Flip and continue cooking until other side is golden brown and pancake is cooked through.
  5. Enjoy right away, topped with a dallop of honey flavoured greek yogurt and some fresh sliced strawberries.

These are super filling pancakes because of the oats in them - so while the batch looks small, it will actually feed 2-3 people quite comfortably. Mine made 3 1/2 cup sized pancakes and one pancake filled me up and kept me going til lunch time!

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. Happy Baking my Friends!