Category Archives: Food

We’re Moving to Toronto!

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It’s official – Andrew and I are moving to Toronto! After 6 months of waiting, we finally got our work visas. Considering that we have only been in the same city a total of 8 weeks since getting married in September (Andrew living and working in Toronto, me living in New Orleans, working in Los Angeles, and visiting Toronto), this is exciting for a lot of reasons! Mainly, we are finally going to be able to answer the question “what’s married life like?”!!Canadian Visa

We spent an entire weekend searching for apartments, trying to find the right fit for us. We want to give this whole big city lifestyle a try, although I started to hyperventilate a bit when I saw how small these kitchens are…But we found this place downtown, that makes me feel so urban and cool! So okay, maybe I can slim down my kitchen equipment, part with my popcorn maker, Panini press , toaster…in exchange for floor to ceiling windows and living in the middle of the action!Toronto Apartment

This past month, New Orleans was absolutely electric in anticipation of Mardi Gras!! You could feel the excitement in the air. I was like a little kid cheering and catching candy from the 4th of July floats, only this time I had a margarita in one hand while trying to catch beads with the other :)Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street

I LOVED the marching bands and the illuminated floats in the night parades.

Mardi Gras Parade Float

Needless to say, February has been an action-packed month!! We are busy getting ready for the move across the border and trying to soak in as much of New Orleans as possible these last few days!

Favorite meal cooked in February: Turkey Chili – an old recipe that hit the spot in Toronto’s frigid temps (and it’s SO easy and SO healthy)

Favorite cocktail in February: I can’t get enough of these Blood Orange Margaritas!Blood Orange Margaritas

Laughed the hardest in February: playing Fishbowl with friends, but this time with a twist! We added two new rounds that had me on the ground dying laughing. See the original rules here, to which we added a 4th round, where the person has to act out a word under a bed sheet, and a 5th round, where the person can only use sound effects to get their team to guess the word.Fishbowl Game

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Blood Orange Margaritas

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Blood oranges are currently in season so I’ve been doing a little experimenting…and I have found my new favorite cocktail!! I can’t believe it, but I love these even more than my favorite basic fresh margarita!  Blood oranges are so sweet and delicious right now – and so pretty.Blood Oranges

You’ll want to make sure you have a good juicer, like this one, to juice your oranges (and limes). Andrew and I are crazy about this industrial juicer a friend gave us for our wedding – we take our cocktail making seriously :) I’m also enjoying this little mini measuring cup to measure ounces.Blood Orange Margaritas

I can’t tell you how delicious these are!! You just have to try one. I made these for my Valentine on Saturday – they are the perfect pink color.Blood Orange MargaritasBlood Orange Margarita

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce Triple Sec (or other orange liqueur such as Cointreau)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 2 ounces blood orange juice
  • ice (I think crushed ice is best)
  • Kosher salt for rim of glass

Directions:

Salt the rim of your glass using the pictured instructions in this post. Make sure to do this before adding ice to the glass, otherwise the water from the ice will cause the salt to clump.

In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice, and blood orange juice. Add a large handful of ice and shake for a good 30 seconds to make sure it’s chilled and refreshing!

Pour into the glass, add more ice if needed, and garnish with a thin slice of blood orange if you want to be fancy. Serve immediately. (If you want to make these ahead of time, store in the fridge without any ice. Add ice when serving.)

**If you are using a shot glass or want to scale this recipe, just make sure you use 2 parts tequila, 1 part Triple Sec, 1 part lime juice, and 2 parts blood orange juice.

Moscow Mules

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Have you heard of this drink? I LOVE a good Moscow Mule, any day of year! So does my family now – I’ve got them hooked! It is an incredibly refreshing vodka cocktail with a kick of ginger and hint of lime. These are so easy to make at home with the right recipe and ingredients. Why not mix up something a little different for your next cocktail hour? I know we will definitely be making these at Thanksgiving in a few weeks :)Moscow Mule / www.sarasfavoritethings.com

Ginger beer is a less sugary version of ginger ale and it is not interchangeable here. Over the last year, we have tried several different ginger beers and have found that Gosling’s is the best. There are some really bad ginger beers out there and because there are only 3 ingredients in this cocktail, it’s important that the ginger beer is good!Gosling's Ginger Beer

At our wedding, Andrew and I served our two favorite specialty cocktails. One was our all-time favorite: a freshly made margarita. We named it the “Maze-a-rita”, for my new last name – Maze! The other cocktail we served was this Moscow Mule, which we renamed the “Milwaukee Mule” that night.Moscow Mule

Wondering why drink a Moscow mule out of a copper mug? Mainly, because they are fun! But I have read that the copper keeps the drink cooler and enhances the flavors. Copper mugs can be found all over these days. I like these smooth mugs and this hammered finish. Are you looking for a fun hostess, wedding or Christmas gift? Put together a Moscow Mule basket with copper mugs, vodka, ginger beer, and maybe a lime juicer! Turns out I am behind the times here because Oprah had this Moscow Mule kit as one of her favorite things in 2012.Moscow Mule

Moscow Mules

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 shots vodka (2 shots if you like a strong drink!)
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (about ½ a shot)
  • ½ cup ginger beer* (1 can makes 3 cocktails)
  • ice

Directions:

In a glass or copper mug, combine the vodka and lime juice first, and then pour in the ginger beer. Add a big handful of ice and stir. Serve right away.

*If using copper mugs, stick them in the freezer an hour before serving so that they are frosted.

*I’ve tried several different ginger beers and some of them have been awful (don’t buy Reed’s)! The Gosling’s brand is my favorite and the most widely available. Depending on what city you are in, you might be able to find a great local or craft ginger beer. Because there are only 3 ingredients in this drink, a bad ginger beer will make a bad cocktail.

Cheers!!

Buffalo Turkey Lettuce Wraps

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Last Tuesday started off as a normal healthy day, eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, but then work got stressful that afternoon and somehow my favorite chocolate covered almonds wound up on my desk. I got caught in one of those moments of weakness where you suddenly realize, oh god, how many did I just eat?? And then the bridal shop called to say my wedding dress was in. Are you kidding me?? The irony! (It wasn’t due until August, I thought I had more time!) I could still taste the chocolate in my mouth. While envisioning squeezing into that white gown! Time to get serious :)Buffalo Turkey Lettuce WrapsThis is the perfect meal for “I need a healthy dinner…but I want it to be satisfying too!” I make these lettuce wraps all the time because they are very lean, but seriously hit the spot. You can’t beat how quick it is to make them either. This is my go-to recipe when I’m at the grocery store without a meal plan because the ingredient list is so easy to remember.Buffalo Turkey Lettuce WrapsI have become a MAJOR fan of buffalo sauce! When something on the menu says buffalo, my eye instantly goes there. The problem is, most of the time it’s coating something unhealthy, like breaded and fried wings. Plus, restaurants generally combine their buffalo sauce with a ton of butter, which is fattening and not an option with my lactose intolerance. This recipe calls for the just the sauce by itself, so you get that great flavor without the heavy calories.Buffalo Turkey Lettuce WrapsMy favorite recipes are ones that you can cook once and eat for several meals. These lettuce wraps definitely fall into that category. However, when I make these for Andrew and myself for dinner, there are generally no leftovers! You’ll certainly feel full, but guilt-free since they are so healthy!

Buffalo Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Serves: 2-4 (2 if you are hungry and serve these alone; 4 if you make them with a side)

  • ½-¾ cup diced onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • 1 package ground turkey
  • ½ cup Buffalo Sauce (I use Frank’s)
  • 1 head butter lettuce or iceburg lettuce
  • Celery
  • Shredded or chopped carrots
  • Optional: blue cheese or goat cheese crumbles

First, rinse the lettuce, so that the cups will be dry by the time everything is done cooking.

Add the onion to a pan over medium heat and cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the garlic for about a minute, until fragrant, stirring to prevent the garlic from burning.

Add the ground turkey to the pan with the onion and garlic and stir it around every few minutes to make sure the meat cooks evenly and all the way through. Add some salt and pepper at this point if you like. If there is liquid in the bottom of the pan when the meat is done, you may want to drain that out. Then, reduce the heat to low and add the buffalo sauce. Stir the mixture until it’s all coated with sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Delicately pull apart the butter lettuce or head of iceburg lettuce so that you have cups. Put a couple cups on each plate, fill with a few scoops of the ground turkey and sprinkle with shredded carrots, chopped celery, and maybe even some cheese crumbles. Make sure to serve with napkins!

 

**If you’re loving the idea of lettuce wraps for a light summer meal, another one of my other favorite recipes is these Chicken Nectarine Lettuce Cups.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

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This oatmeal is seriously going to spice up your breakfast life! If you started the new year with boring breakfasts, in attempt to be healthy again, here’s a way to add some excitement! I promise it will be love at first bite, when the flavors of carrot cake hit you. I swear I’m not crazy, but yes, I’m asking you to add vegetables to your oatmeal! Carrots for breakfast?? Give it a chance and you will not regret it. This morning, I woke up excited to indulge in a bowl of carrot cake oatmeal that tastes sinfully delicious, but still a healthy choice!

https://sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com / Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Have you tried steel cut oats before? If you are not an oatmeal fan because of the mushy texture of regular rolled oats, these might change your mind. I love steel cut oats because they have a chewy texture and a slightly nutty flavor that makes them very satisfying to eat. Plus, steel cut oats can be reheated and still taste just as great without losing their texture. This recipe is perfect for making a big batch, splitting across individual containers, and taking to work to heat-up each morning. Here’s the quick cooking steel-cut oats that I use from Trader Joe’s and my absolute favorite coconut milk.https://sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com / Carrot Cake OatmealThis is clearly not your standard bowl of oatmeal – the oats are taken over by all kinds of other good stuff! If you choose the quick-cooking variety, you will want to measure everything out in a bowl ahead of time because you will add it all at the same time. Topping your bowl off with walnuts at the end provides a healthy fat, which will help keep you full all morning.photo (6)https://sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com / Carrot Cake OatmealNow, I have to set expectations. This is STILL a bowl of oatmeal and not a piece of cake, thickly iced with cream cheese frosting. However, the flavors of this oatmeal are spot on with carrot cake and your breakfast will taste decadent, while remaining healthy. I promise that first bite will warm your heart!https://sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com / Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Adapted from: Annie’s Eats

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • Water
  • Milk (I use Trader Joe’s Coconut Milk)
  • 1 cup steel cut oats (I use Trader Joe’s quick cooking steel cut oats)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 Tablespoons brown sugar, depending on how sweet you want to make it
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Walnuts for topping

 Directions:

Combine equal parts water and milk in a medium pot and bring to a simmer (little bubbles just starting to form around the outside of the pot). If you’re using quick cooking oats, you most likely will use 1.5 cups water and 1.5 cups milk, because the recipe on the label will state 3 cups liquid to 1 cup oats. For regular steel cut oats, you will most likely use 2 cups water and 2 cups milk because the recipe will call for 4 cups liquid to 1 cup oats. Adjust accordingly.

For quick-cooking oats: Measure out all of the ingredients (except walnuts) and place in a bowl so that they are ready to go. When your liquid reaches a simmer, dump in all the ingredients from the bowl at one time. Put a lid on your pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally and continue to simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Take the oatmeal off the heat and it will thicken a little bit more as it starts to cool.

For regular steel-cut oats: When the liquid starts to simmer, stir in the oats and reduce the heat to medium-low to continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, measure out the rest of the ingredients and shred your carrots. At the 20 minute mark, stir in the remaining ingredients (except walnuts) and continue to simmer for about another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed.

Sprinkle with chopped walnuts on top and breakfast is served!

*If you save some to reheat later, you may want to add a little milk to restore the creaminess to the oats.

 

Cranberry Margaritas

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Are you having people over for the holidays? Then you’ve got to make this cocktail for your friends and families! These cranberry margaritas are so fresh and delicious that you will absolutely be asked for a second round. The addition of cranberry juice adds fun flavor, a little bit of sweetness and a little bit of tartness, to the traditional margarita. I did A LOT of recipe testing over Thanksgiving to come up with the winning combination below, so I promise it’s a good one!Cranberry Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comTurns out margaritas aren’t just tasty in the summer heat – they are just as delicious in chilly winter temperatures! The red cranberries, the green limes and the “snowy” frosted glass make these festive and full of holiday cheer!Cranberry Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

Cranberry Margaritas

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 3 shots tequila
  • 3 shots cranberry juice (use 100% cranberry juice with no added sugar)
  • 2 shots freshly squeezed lime juice (2-3 limes, depending on how juicy they are)
  • 2 shots Triple Sec
  • crushed ice (it’s best to buy a bag from the store)
  • Kosher salt for rim of glass
  • Cranberries and lime slices for garnish

Directions:

Salt the rim of each glass using the pictured instructions below. Make sure to use a squeezed lime to wet the lip of the glass because the salt will stick to lime juice. If you used water, it will just melt the salt. Then, fill each glass with ice.

In a cocktail shaker, combine the tequila, cranberry juice, lime juice, and Triple Sec. Add a big handful of ice and shake it up! Pour the cocktail equally into two glasses through the strainer at the top of the shaker.

Garnish with some fresh cranberries and a slice of lime. Serve right away. Cheers!Cranberry Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comAfter everyone has a cranberry margarita hand, I recommend playing this game to really get the party going! Have fun!

Almond Butter Oatmeal Balls

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You would not believe how many requests I get for this recipe! There is not a person who has tried these and not loved them. They are so addicting that I find excuses to eat them all day: pre-morning workout energy boost, afternoon snack, and even an after dinner dessert. My mouth waters just thinking about them!

Almond Butter Oatmeal Balls / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comThis little bite-sized snack is actually packed with all kinds good for you ingredients: chia seeds, flaxseed meal, oats, almonds, and cacao nibs. That’s why they can count as a healthy snack AND pass for dessert! I buy my chia seeds and almond butter from Trader Joe’s and my flaxseed meal and cacao nibs on amazon.

Almond Butter Oatmeal Balls / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comEverything can be combined in one bowl! Very little mess :)

Almond Butter Oatmeal Balls / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

Seriously, try these balls.

Almond Butter Oatmeal Balls / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comAlmond Butter Oatmeal Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup almond butter (room temperature)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips or cacoa nibs*

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients in one bowl. Be sure to use a big spatula or wooden spoon because the mixture is thick and will require a little muscle! You will want to chop the sliced almonds up so that they mix well with everything.

Once everything is evenly combined, roll into 1-inch balls.  At this size, you will get close to 30. Put them in a Tupperware container and let chill in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. They taste best cold!

You can store for as long as you want in the refrigerator, but I guarantee they will get eaten quickly!

*If you don’t have mini chocolate chips, you could chop up normal sized chocolate chips. Or, try cacoa nibs for a healthy alternative! Cacao nibs contain no sugar and are considered a super food, loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and magnesium.