A Green Smoothie to Rule All Green Smoothies

Doesn't it feel great to eat things that feel decadent but are actually healthy? This green smoothie left me feeling just that. It's packed with good stuff like kale, cinnamon, and banana and will leave you feeling satisfied and like you just indulged in that sweet fix. Guys, it seriously tastes like an oatmeal cookie! 

It helps that it's a really easy-to-make and easy-to-tote snack too.  You can throw it together, pour it into a mason jar with a lid for a mid-afternoon snack at work or for your commute to work. Just throw all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. I used my Vitamix, which leaves anything you put in there velvety and not gritty at all.

Oatmeal Cookie Green Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 banana
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 2 big handfuls kale, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup raw rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp honey

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Sometimes the best recipes are those that are simple and let the ingredients shine. This dish is a go to in our house that never disappoints and always hits the spot. When the sprouts get that perfect char on them, I could eat them for days! Add some toasted nuts and dried cranberries to make this side dish extra tasty. 

You may be thinking, "isn't this a fall dish?" My answer: kind of. But some foods are just too good to only eat at certain times in the year. I could and do eat this year round and love it every time! 

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound brussel sprouts
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Cut brussel sprouts in half and clean off any wilted top leaves
  3. Place sprouts on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle on olive oil, sprinkle salt freshly ground pepper to taste and toss sprouts to evenly distribute oil, salt, and pepper
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the sprouts are softened on the inside and crisp and browned on the outside
  5. In the meantime, toast whole pistachios in dry cast iron pan over medium-high heat until nuts are fragrant and lightly browned
  6. Chop pistachios and set aside
  7. Place roasted brussel sprouts in serving dish with chopped pistachios and dried cranberries, mix to combine, and serve!

Favorites Shots from Behind the Chair: Health and Swellness

Back in January, I shared some of my favorite photos from my collaborations with Aylin Abraham from Cabello by Carolina, an amazing hairstylist (and friend!) based in Toronto. This series features inspiring entrepreneurial women from The 6ix. Aylin interviews these fabulous ladies while doing their hair in beachy waves, her signature braids, and other creative and beautiful hairstyles. 

Today I'm sharing some photos from our session with Karen Kwan from the blog, Health and Swellness. Karen was gearing up to go for a long run with a friend as a part of her marathon training and Aylin gave her the perfect boxer braids to keep her hair out of her face while still looking cute. I loved that Aylin kept her bangs down and Karen put a pop of color on her lips! 

During the interview, Karen and Aylin chatted about writing, training, and, of course, hair. Some of my favorite quotes from the interview are below. You can also visit Aylin's blog to read the full interview and see more shots from the session. 

Aylin working her magic

Aylin working her magic

I try to look for inspiration in anything and everything.
The perfect hair style for a long run. These boxer braids will keep the hair out of your face and make you look cute even after running 29k!

The perfect hair style for a long run. These boxer braids will keep the hair out of your face and make you look cute even after running 29k!

After the interview, Aylin and Karen went for a little run together. It's what they do best, after all! The colors of both Karen's outfit and the beautiful turquoise windows were so inspiring for me! Given that it was late winter/early spring, I needed a pop of color to get me ready for warmer weather!  

I’d recommend choosing a race that challenges you, but doesn’t over-challenge you. If you have never run (and this was me in 2007), then don’t choose to complete a marathon as your first race. Build up to the longer distances if you’re a complete newbie.

Be sure to check out both of these ladies' blogs for more hairstyle, running, and lifestyle inspiration! 

Adventures Behind the Lens

This past year, a good friend and I have been partnering up for a photo series featuring inspirational Toronto women.  Aylin, founder of Cabello by Carolina, will do their hair in inspired and beautiful hairstyles and pick their brains on their successes and life as entrepreneurial women in the city. We've been having a lot of fun with this series and have met many wonderful women, and often it will feel like a low-key hang out with girlfriends rather than a formal shoot. 

Here are some of my favorite shots from a few of our sessions around the city.

 

Gwen Elliot is a bubbly and encouraging media strategist and TV producer. The photoshoot with Gwen was full of laughs and good stories. Check out Gwen's podcast, Your Big Break, here.

Next up is Elle Ayoubzadeh, owner and creative director of Zvelle, a handcrafted shoe company based in Toronto. We had a lovely time chatting with Elle, checking out her gorgeous shoes, and hanging out with her and her puppy, Chilby.

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Another leading lady that I was excited to meet was Jacklyn McCann, owner and director of Jacklyn Denise Communications. We met Jacklyn in her beautiful office off Spadina and had such a nice time chatting about life, business, and bad haircuts. Check out Jacklyn's Lady Boss events and Tea Talks!

Stay tuned for more collaborations with Aylin and the wonderful entrepreneurial women of Toronto!

Crispy Cauliflower Tacos

The other week, I went to brunch with two of my sisters and my mom at this amazing restaurant in Ferndale, Michigan called One Eyed Betty's.  This is, by far, my favorite restaurant to go to when I'm back home.  While we were chatting over delicious biscuits and gravy and the most amazing cinnamon rolls ever, we were talking about what our top three cuisines were. If you had to choose three different cuisines to eat for the rest of your life, what would they be? Mine, hands down would be Mexican, Serbian, and Vietnamese. Any day of the week, I would choose one of these. Serbian food is my ultimate comfort food, but Mexican and Vietnamese are close seconds.    

Tacos in particular are one of my go-to meals. Fancy tacos, throw-food-together tacos, veggie, chicken, pork, or fish tacos. I've made 'em all. They can take as little as 20 minutes to throw together on a hectic day and can also be a great dish to spend some more time on when people come over. This recipe can be made when you have some time to spare and really want to flex your cooking muscles. Try it out and let me know what you think! 

Crispy Cauliflower Tacos

Homemade Corn Tortillas

Makes about 30 two-bite tortillas

What you'll need:

  • 2 cups masa (I used the Maseca brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • vegetable oil

Mix together masa and salt in a mixing bowl.  Add water and mix until combined. The dough should easily stick together without being too wet. This amount of water was perfect for me. If it's a bit too wet or too dry, add a touch of water or some more masa as needed. 

Measure out 1 tablespoon of dough and roll each into a ball. You can do 4 or 5 at a time. Take one ball of dough, put it on a long piece of saran wrap and fold over so that the ball is sandwiched between the saran wrap.  Use a heavy, flat bottomed pan to flatten the ball into a thin disk, or if i you have a tortilla press, you can use that. 

Heat some vegetable oil (about a teaspoon) in a nonstick pan on medium-high. Put up to 3 tortillas in the pan at a time and cook for 1 minute on each side. Tortillas should become paler in color and may have some golden spots. Repeat this process until all dough is gone. 

Crispy Cauliflower

What you'll need:

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into very small florets
  • 2 T Tex-mex mix (I use this recipe)
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Mix flour, Tex-mex mix, and 1 teaspoon of salt in shallow bowl and beat eggs in another shallow bowl. Coat cauliflower with egg, then in flour mixture and shake off excess flour.  

Heat oil to 375 degrees. Drop cauliflower pieces in hot oil and cook until golden brown. Cauliflower won't take long at all to cook, especially if florets are small. I cut the florets very small, so they took between 1 and 2 minutes. Drain florets on paper towel and sprinkle salt on immediately. 

Quick Pickled Onions

What you'll need:

  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly 
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Put all ingredients into a bowl, mix, and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Onions will soften and become less intense in flavor. 

Corn Salsa

What you'll need:

  • 4 ears of corn, cleaned
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed & minced
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 2 limes
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • vegetable oil

Stand corn cobs straight up and run the blade of your knife down the side, removing the corn kernels from the cob. Heat up 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add corn kernels, cooking for 2-3 minutes.  Add minced jalapeños and cook for 1 minute until corn is a bit browned. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Wait until corn is cooled down, then add avocado, zest of 1 lime, juice of two limes. cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cilantro Lime Crema

What you'll need:

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 limes
  • handful of cilantro, finely chopped

Put sour cream in a small bowl and mix in zest of 1 lime and juice of both limes. Add cilantro into bowl and mix until combined.

 

 

Assemble the tacos by adding all components and garnish with chopped cilantro and lime wedges.

Turkish Coffee

One of my favorite souvenirs that my mom brought me back from Serbia last summer was the beautiful hand crafted Turkish coffee set.  The set included a jezva (Turkish coffee pot), two small cups, a sugar pot, and a serving tray. I've loved learning to make the intense coffee just like my mom and Baka used to make when company came over.

To make this, you'll need a few things that you may not have at home. You'll need a jezva, which is a small, tall, and skinny coffee pot, and Turkish coffee grounds, or very finely ground coffee grounds.  You can find the grounds at any European grocery store.

How to make Turkish Coffee:

Makes 3 cups of coffee | Takes 5 minutes

What you'll need:

  • 3 espresso cups worth of water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 heaping teaspoons espresso, ground
  • 1 Turkish coffee pot, or jezva
  1.  Measure out three cups of water into the jezva using the cups you'll be serving the coffee in
  2. Add sugar to jezva
  3. Bring to boil on medium-high, cook for 1 minute
  4. Take jezva off the stove and add espresso grounds
  5. Stir coffee and put jezva back on stove
  6. Bring to boil, watching closely, and take off stove when coffee rises to top of the pot
  7. Stir coffee, then place back onto stove
  8. Reboil coffee and take off stove when it rises again
  9. Serve and enjoy!

 

The beginning of it all...

I've always had a really great relationship with food. It's safe to say that we're buddies, food and I.  I love that food can bring people together, it can make people happy, and taking the time to make something tasty for someone can show that you really care about them. That they matter enough to you that you would spend 3 hours of your day making them the perfect meal. Food has a lot of power in that way and I love that it means more than just something that keeps you from dying.  But you know... it does that too.

Clearly enjoying some cake beside my grandmother and two (out of four) of my amazing sisters

Clearly enjoying some cake beside my grandmother and two (out of four) of my amazing sisters

I was raised around good food and great cooks. My sisters, my parents, my grandmothers, and relatives all know how to make things that are incredibly tasty and they love sharing it with each other over a conversation. One of my earliest influencers was my maternal grandmother, or Baka as we called her in Serbian.  She owned a restaurant in Almont, Michigan, and worked hard to make much of the food she served by scratch, staying up late at night and waking up early in the morning to cook, bake, and clean in the restaurant.

I remember sitting in the back room of her restaurant, Maria's Place, while she made homemade dough for stuffed tacos. I would sit on a stool and watch as she masterfully rolled out the dough and made these delicious doughy pockets filled with spiced meat and vegetables that would later be fried to perfection. It was a task that was clearly perfected through years and years of practice. While she was rolling, stuffing, and sealing the tacos, my grandmother would give me a lump of dough to roll out and form into whatever was in my mind at that time. I would make turtles and teddy bears while she worked, sneaking pinches of dough to taste until the turtle or teddy bear were very, very small. The next day, after watching hours of cartoons in her apartment above the restaurant, I would come downstairs for the lunchtime rush to sit on top of a 10 gallon bucket in the kitchen, where I watched the line cooks deep frying those labored-over pockets to order. It was from memories like this that I learned how much fun and how satisfying it can be to make something from scratch. To not cut corners and to give my best in the things I cooked, like she did. 

It's with this thought that I'm excited to start this blog and to share my homemade kitchen adventures and foodie doodles with you all! I hope you enjoy it and try out some new recipes. Be sure to let me know how they turn out in the comments!