Exploring Fes, Morocco, Where to Stay and What to Buy

HI! I am back on Canadian soil after my trip to the magical country of Morocco, I’m beyond excited to share some of the highlights from my trip exploring Fes, Morocco, with all of you and explore everything from where to stay and what to buy! I have been to Morocco previously, and a local explained to me this trip, your first time in Morocco is for looking, your second time in Morocco is for immersing yourself and your third time in Morocco, well you are there to stay! I was certainly able to immerse myself in the culture and cuisine more readily as I knew what to expect, from the rich history, to the hussle and bustle of the medina, some of the best shopping around, the array of smells, the vibrant colors of the freshest of fresh ingredients and enough food to feed a village in one setting… it is a place of wonder! Get ready for an experience of a lifetime.

What initially brought me to Morocco was a medical mission trip with Operation Smile, in Casablanca on a Orthognathic & Cleft Lip/Palate correction nursing volunteer trip, it was incredibly successful and during this time I was able to understand the Moroccan way of life first hand. Their kindness and compassion towards me was immediately felt as I was embraced and lightly kissed on the cheeks with every meeting and parting. I felt like I was at home, there is a certain beauty to their hospitality and a kindness difficult to put into words. I was able to partake in their lives during a time where their children would undergo life altering surgeries, most definitely a stressful undertaking, yet all I was surrounded by were enormous smiles, hugs, thankful phrases, whispers of their prayer and their comforting touch on my shoulder as I took care of their little ones. This particular mission also allowed me to care for an older female patient population and my heart bonded with these beautiful girls whom were faced with medical tribulations since birth and they had the courage and trust in us to undergo these difficult surgeries. Their ability to support one another in these times was immensely moving, they bonded like family and helped one another through it all, I stood back and watched in amazement and wondered what our world would be like if everyone could create a community like this. I am so grateful for this experience as I was able to experience the Moroccan culture through another looking-glass, something I’ll never forget.

After completing the mission in Casablanca I decided to head to where it all started, Fes, the oldest Imperial city in Morocco, bursting with charm, history, an endless medina and rolling hills. I felt an immediate connection with the city as my train pulled into this historical city. I took the local train as my choice of transportation, a clean and fairly quick way of getting around. The trip from Casablanca to Fes was approximately 4 hours, cost me 174 Dirham ($23) and I was able to take in the stunning countryside through my first class window side seat on the train, they also serve refreshments and snacks at a cost if needed! My train came to a stop and the excitement set in!

Fes Train Station

Where to Stay:

In Morocco I would recommend always staying at a riad, it is a traditional Moroccan traditional house in which the rooms encircle a grand courtyard, they once used to be the homes of wealthy citizens and are now being restored to their former glory as hotels, they typically have multiple rooms fit for royalty and many of which are a couple hundred years old! It is certainly a sight to see when you travel down tight cobble stone streets through the loud busy medina streets and cannot be sure that there is a peaceful getaway in the middle of it all, but there is!

I chose a lovely riad in Fes by the name of Dar Victoria, I was greeted by the manager and navigated towards what would be my home for the next 5 days, riad’s can be difficult to find the first time, but once you memorize your left’s and rights through the streets, you’re set! We came upon a grand wooden carved door and as I stepped through it, the breathtaking view of bright and meticulously placed tiles poured into sight , then a grand courtyard with tables, lanterns, plants and astounding pounded copper topped tables filled my view. The walls throughout the entire riad courtyard are chiseled in perfect design and painted with colors only found in nature such as saffron, indigo and agave plants, it’s simply impossible to truly take it all in on the first day. Oh and not to mention a lovely rooftop patio to watch the sunset from! After a must have welcome mint tea sit down with the riad manager, Muhammad, he graciously led me to my room, a quaint and rustic Moroccan getaway decorated with colorful Moroccan rugs, framed pictures of mysteriously beautiful Berber women and of course more artfully laid tiles. I felt at home!

Dar Victoria Courtyard

Shopping in Morocco:

My intent on this mini vacay was to delve into the history, eat like the Moroccans eat and clearly the glaringly obvious thing to do… SHOP! Now I believe the secret to getting the full experience of a city is  getting lost and going where your heart and feet take you. That was exactly my plan on that first day, getting lost in the walled medina, until I read that there were over 9,500 intricate streets in this medina.. . So perhaps I should take some mental notes on what streets I was on and a plan to reach the main artery of the medina if needed! I downloaded an offline map just as a backup means!

It can be EXTREMELY tempting to start buying all the mesmerizing Moroccan goods the second you lay eyes on them, just wait! Take note of what you see, where it was and your ability to take it home and truly enjoy it at home. I made the mistake on my last trip to Morocco of buying everything in sight that caught my eye immediately and regretted after all the things I wished I had actually brought back. There are hundreds of shops with hidden treasures, search and you’ll know when you come upon something that is calling to come home with you.

Now some shopping 101 in Morocco, be kind, be patient, never pay the asking price (I paid about a quarter/third of their initial asking price on everything), haggle to your hearts desire, set a price in your mind on the items worth to you and stick to it and try to stay away from the shops on the main road ways, find the hidden gems with less foot traffic. Haggling is a way of life, friendly back and forth haggling banter with a smile on your face is truly exhilarating, just be sure to be well fed and rested before tackling a day of shopping! Alright here is my three-step guide to getting that item you want at the price you want!

How to Haggle Like a Pro:

Step 1: Build rapport and stay calm! You see that plate that is calling your name from across the store, you’re tempted to run over, examine it and ask for a price, restrain yourself! Walk in, greet the store owner, in my broken Arabic, I always exchange names and proudly exclaim I’m Canadian and while doing so, I show interest in all the items they have for sale, don’t show excitement or attachment to that one item alone.

Step 2: Examine many items, tire them out. These are the recommendations from a local Moroccan, he told me to tire them out! Ask about many items, scour through, dig in the corners, you will hear over and over, make yourself at home, this is also your home, so do it! They will soon be confused on exactly what you came for and get a little exhausted with you rifling through and asking about each item, then behold, you’ve reached that plate that you’ve had your eye on the entire time, casually ask about it and it’s price. By this time they are usually just going to throw out a decent price as you’ve asked several times before, but this time it’s coming home!

Step 3: Set a price and haggle haggle. You have to face it that you’ll never get local pricing, you are a tourist, but this doesn’t mean you can’t leave with a hell of a deal! They will throw at you an absurd number to begin with, I throw them a look of disbelief and a huge grin with a HOW MUCH?! Counter them back, in fact, what do you have to lose in it all?! They start crazy high, I start crazy low, cut the price in quarter if not more, then let the games begin. Patience and having fun is key, you will go back and forth on a price and eventually when you reach your intended price of worth, say that’s my best price and make it known that you really want to buy from them and what a great store they have.

Thank them for their time and hospitality and say that’s your best price, 90% of the time with some more jokes and smiles they will begin to wrap the item for you in newspaper and tape it up without actually agreeing, this is my sign when I set the price and offer a handshake to seal the deal!

I’ve tested this method over and over and I’d say I got some pretty darn good prices on some high quality souvenirs! Don’t get upset, aggressive, or ignorant, this will not get you anywhere, I also don’t recommend the turn and walk away method and hope they call you back, they usually don’t in my experience.

What to Buy and How Much Should You Pay?

I now buy items that I know I’ll use and appreciate when back at home. Being such a foodie I regretted not bringing back a tagine (a Moroccan clay cooking oven) during my last visit, I knew this was coming home with me this time, despite its weight being similar to a small donkey… it did just fine on my carry on. I’ll be able to recreate Moroccan dishes in a traditional oven, nothing beats that. There are two types of tagines, ones that are elaborately painted and ceramic, these are only used to serve food in, NOT to cook in. The other are the full red/brown clay tagines that are oven cured and glazed for use in high temperatures and cooking, decide what you want your tagine for and buy accordingly. Beware, I have heard of some tagines being painted in lead paint, although when I asked if the cooking tagines were painted they stated never cook with a painted tagine… clay only. I haggled a medium-sized (holds enough for 2-3 people) red clay tagine for about 80 dirhams ($11 dollars), the smaller ones you can get for cheaper.

I wanted some items to accent my home and bring that Moroccan flare. I adore the Berber rug I bought last time and it’s certainly a conversation starter that is so unique. A rug is something that will last a long long time and you can’t get anything like it here. The rug buying experience is also something it itself, tea ceremonies and rugs flying at you from every which direction is most amusing. Rug prices vary greatly based on size, material and intricacy of the stitching, we managed to bring back a berber rug about 5×3 ft for $90, I still think we could have haggled harder for this one!

This time around I bought some unbelievable pillow covers that are made from agave plant silk, the patterns and styles are endless, this shopping trip took me two hours in the store alone, the styles are endless! They are top quality and hand stitched, I bargained hard and got 3 large pillow covers for 125 dirham ($17) each.

If you want dishes, Fes is the place to get them. You can’t miss the white and blue enticing dishes that dance across the medina shops, hand crafted and ornate. I managed to grab 4 lovely bowls to enjoy at home and they also faired just fine, well wrapped, on my carry on! The options are endless, plates of all sizes, bowls, platters, spice holders, serving tagines etc. Very difficult to restrain yourself! I got the bowls at 40 dirham ($5) a pop!

This time I couldn’t walk away without buying a leather pouf for my living room, they are the growing trend and bring so much character to a space! I bought a cream-colored tall pouf with a simple designed stamped on top for myself and the same in brown for my mom! Make sure you take your time looking at these in different shops, some feel brittle and thin, I searched until I found tall, thick and sturdy camel hide poufs. I haggled hard for over an hour for these beauties but it was well with my time, I walked away with two for 300 dirham, only $20 bucks a pouf!

It would be a sin not to buy spices from the land of spice, especially ras el hanout , a Moroccan spice blend containing cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, coriander, chili powder, cumin, turmeric and pepper, it’s used for many dishes such as cous cous, tagines, meats and vegetables. The other must buy is saffron! We pay an arm and a leg for these threads of beauty, I got a gram for 35 dirham ($4), steal of a deal! Most spices go for 30-35 dirham per 100 gram and saffron is usually 35-40 dirham per gram.

If you are into beauty products, don’t leave without pure Argan oil, it is a skin and hair reviving goddess! Ensure you go to a shop that actually sells pure Argan oil, many places sell a knock off product with only 20% being Argan, either buy from a pharmacy or ask your local riad/hotel for any recommendations, better yet, I found a store that was pressing the Argan nuts in front of me and I watched the oil be pressed out, doesn’t get any more real than that! Also, the Moroccans swear by their rose-water, used for skin rejuvenation, aromatherapy, perfume and “keeping their mother in-laws happy” by bringing and spraying them in the stuff on visits! Last but not least the Moroccan clay is used for face masks, body wraps and exfoliates! The Argan oil is usually 100 dirham ($13) for a small bottle and the rose-water half that price for a similar size.

These are some of my top picks for shopping, of course all based on my individual tastes and uses at home! Go out and see what catches your eye and remember the three steps of successful haggling! But most of all, soak it all in and enjoy yourself.

Stay tuned for the second half of my Fes experience, this time all be covering what food you have to try, where to eat and my favorite part, the Moroccan cooking class! I will share with you some recipes that I was able to create during my cooking class!

 

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Holiday Spiced Cranberry Pineapple Chutney

Bbrrrrrrr, happy freezing cold Saturday! I’m trying to stay warm, bright and cheery in this blanket of snow and arctic deep freeze… not easy as I dream of sunny days and bronzed skin… then end is in sight you guys! The new year promises warmer weather, YES! Until then stay huddled, warm and eat yummy food, hmmm maybe my Holiday Spiced Cranberry Pineapple Chutney is in store?! Perfect for a New Years appy or for snacking purposes with Netflix on, giant fluffy warm socks and game night! So a friend recently asked me for a chutney recipe he could whip up for a holiday gathering and I immediately jumped on the challenge, flavors and fruit combos went running through my head! I knew I wanted to conjure up a healthier chutney for the holidays, one that wasn’t half sugar… but of course still delicious! I tried a few combos and this Holiday Spiced Cranberry Pineapple Chutney was the winner at all my holiday festivities and with my husband.

So chutnies originated in Indian, coming from the Hindi word “chatni”. Chutnies are typically a relish made from fresh fruit and spices and can be used in a multitude of ways! I love any sort of sauce, relish or side dish that highlights and improves simple ingredients, that’s exactly what this chutney does! While I was trialing fruit combos I was dreaming of being back in warm Hawaii and then it occurrd to me, why not throw a little Hawaaiin heat into the chutney? So in went the pineapple and jalapeno, then the magic happened! It turned out sweet with a little heat and tang, a perfect balance! I actually didn’t even realize how simple chutnies are to make and how much flavor gets packed into a small spoonful, it was a hit forsure!

Chutnies literally go with almost anything, I served my Holiday Spiced Cranberry Pineapple Chutney up as an appetizer on Christmas Eve dinner on a fancy lil charcuterie platter with an arrangement of crackers, cheese, assorted Italian meats, nuts, cucumber slices and dried fruit. I enjoyed it on everything from fresh veggies, roasted chicken, roasted veggies, crackers, eggs to putting it on my husbands meat & cheese sandwich melts, wraps and fruit cheese mid afternoon snack platters! Everyone that tried it loved it, I wish I made a bigger batch! I think it’s definitely a recipe to ring in the New Year with!

Here is what you will need:

1 tsp olive oil

3/4 cup yellow sweet onion – diced finely

1 jalapeno – diced finely

2 tsp fresh grated ginger

6 dried dates – pitted and diced

3/4 cup fresh pineapple – chopped

2 tbsp of pineapple juice (optional, but if you have some leftover juice from your pineapple use it!)

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

1/4 cup apple/cider vinegar

1 tbsp honey

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s how to make your own chutney! 

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium low heat.

Add your onion, jalapeno, ginger and dates. Sure and allow onions to soften, approximately 5-8 minutes, stirring intermittently.

Add the remainder of your ingredients, stir well and allow to simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes.

Half way through cooking I grabbed my muddler  (you can use a potato masher etc) and broke down the bigger pieces of fruit, mashing it down to desired consistency. I like it a bit smoother but if you like a chunky chutney, then don’t break it down as much!

When it’s thickened it’s ready! Let it cool then add to a jar of your choice and seal!

Serve chilled with your choice of assorted crackers, meats, cheese, veggies, as a spread on sandwiches, great on eggs as well.

It’s easy and delicious, it makes a great little gift as well. Wishing all of you an incredibly Happy New Year, may 2018 be full of love, health, new opportunities, growth and happiness! Until next year! Xoxo

Ps: I love seeing my recipes on your table! Tag me on Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram

 

 

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Christmas Morning Herb Mushroom & Onion Quiche with a Sweet Potato Crust

Well hello hello! The official countdown is on to Christmas and I’m making you a Christmas Morning Herb Mushroom & Onion Quiche with a Sweet Potato Crust! I still am in disbelief that it is that time of year again… I feel like it snuck up on me as M and I just got back from Kauai last week! It was my big 3 0 birthday trip filled with sunshine, beaches, humid hikes and more tropical fruit than I have had in a year stuffed into a week. I have to say, there was something so odd about a palm tree speckled with Christmas ornaments and Christmas lights strung across bushes with beautiful Hawaiian flowers peaking through lush greens, I just feel like without the fluffy snowy peaks, a hot cup of cocoa in front of a fireplace and decorated tree it doesn’t quite feel like the Christmas I know! None the less, it was an incredible way to spend my birthday and when I returned I was spoiled rotten by my family & friends! My parents seriously went over the top on my gift and got me a stunning cherry Le Creuset French Oven that I could only dream about before and a perfect Le Creuset pie dish for a quiche, I still don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such a gift, I’m in LOVE (they sit out on my counter so I can admire them :)! Since returning I’ve been running around like a mad woman getting gifts together and planning my contributions to the many feasts that bring us all together with the ones we love during this special holiday.
One of my favorite meals, hands down, is breakfast! There is something about waking up, having a hot coffee with a nutritious breakfast to fuel my day, so I thought, why not create a scrumptious Christmas breakfast recipe for Christmas morning to start such a beautiful day off right! I created a Christmas Morning Herb Mushroom & Onion Kale with a Sweet Potato Crust. Now that’s what I’m talking about, relishing a bite of your slice of savory layered quiche, having sips of hot coffee (spiked with your fav happy juice), your loved ones surrounding you and perhaps a gift or two under the tree calling your name 😊 The best part, you don’t have to do an ounce of cooking Christmas morning, quiche warms up very well the next day and usually tastes even better! So make it the day before, pop her in the oven Christmas morning and absorb all the holiday love, whatever that may be for you!
There is something to say for Christmas traditions, we all have them and have our own unique customs that we grew up with and they continue to live on as we grow older and maybe even pass them on. My family has always celebrated on Christmas Eve, starting with an ornate delicious feast that my mom works so hard all day on, then as children we would get a story read to us by my mom as we all anxiously awaited the gifts to magically appear under that real Christmas tree… I never clued in that my dad was never part of story time… :O  Then my dad always passed our gifts to us one after another, he now tries to pawn this duty off to my brother these days! I love how traditions live on! Then when I met my husband I took on his families traditions as well, celebrating Christmas morning with a bountiful breakfast and gift opening! This year perhaps we can all start a new quiche tradition by bringing over my Christmas Morning Herb Mushroom & Onion Quiche with a Sweet Potato Crust! 
I have to say, this quiche is so delectable, you may not want to open gifts until this quiche pan is licked clean! The sweet potato crust has hints of sweet creaminess and crunch on the outside, your caramelized onions and mushrooms infused with rosemary are layered between egg and kale, then its all topped off with a little salty feta to seal the quiche! Make it the day before then re-heat in the oven Christmas morning for all to enjoy! More time to sit back, relax and take Christmas in.
Here is my recipe!
Ingredients:
1 small sweet potato – washed & sliced into thick circles to layer for the crust
1/2 sweet yellow onion – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic – crushed
6-8 brown mushrooms – washed & finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary – diced (1 tbsp dried)
1 tsp onion powder
3 whole eggs
3 egg whites
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
Large handful of kale chopped
2 tbsp fresh feta crumbled
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
Optional: pinch of red chili flakes for a slight heat if you want
Get Cooking:
Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spray pie/quiche dish (mine is 9″) with non stick spray then layer your sweet potato rounds on the bottom and up the sides, spray with non stick spray again and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp each salt, pepper & rosemary, put in oven for 15-20 minutes.
While your sweet potato crust is baking, add your onions, garlic and rosemary into a saute pan over medium heat, saute for 5-8 minutes until onions soften, add mushrooms, onion powder, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, saute until mushrooms soft. Add in your red chili flakes here if wanted!
Whisk 3 eggs, 3 egg whites and 1/3 cup almond milk in a bowl with your remaining 1/4 tsp salt and pepper.
When your crust is done baking, layer your kale, onion mushroom mixture on the bottom then pour your eggs over top, finish with sprinkling your feta on top!
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until set, allow it to cool slightly then dig in!
If you are making it the day before, allow it to cool completely then store it in fridge, re-heat in oven on 350 for 10 minutes or so and enjoy your Christmas morning!
I have to show off my gifts… aren’t they beautiful! They are a dream come true!
I hope I’ve inspired your Christmas morning breakfast menu this year, may the holidays be filled with love, laughter, yummy food, great company, gratitude and a gift here or there. Stay warm and I’m sending you all so much love! I’ll leave you with a heart warming Christmas picture of our sweet pup Nara opening her Christmas Bark Box, XOXO! Merry Christmas!
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Citrus & Dill Roasted Chicken on Veggies

Good morning all! I really can’t believe November is coming to a close and a month of festivities is waiting just around the corner! With this lovely week of warm weather I have found it even harder to fathom that Christmas is only 26 days away… yikes! I recently had a cozy get away at a friends cabin for a little girls Christmas gathering and it sparked my holiday cheer and craving for festive homey, comforting and healthy food. We put together a pretty incredible roasted chicken dish that night which sparked my creativity and ingenuity for my next recipe, I think it is perfect for either a family dinner or a special gathering for sure. Get your roasting pan out for this next recipe, my Citrus & Dill Roasted Chicken on Veggies, it has layers of winter vegetables, sweet potatoes all basted in a citrus, dill, garlic sauce and of course the chicken steals the show here… beautifully browned and roasted, juicy and delicious!

I hadn’t made a full chicken in quite some time, with only two people in the house, its slight over kill with a whole chicky… but with Christmas a coming which usually indicates more gatherings with friends and family, I knew I wanted to make a dish that is pretty quick to throw together, feeds the masses and looks darn perty on the table to impress the guests! In my recent SPUD delivery box of groceries I received some golden and red beets, nothing beats roasted beets, then I came across massive bulbs of fennel at the market, I knew this combo was a match made in food heaven. Knowing me, I can’t ever keep things two ingredient simple, so I threw in onions, I get really excited about roasted onions and how they caramelize and add flavors like no other! Since I was this deep into my roasting pan plan I thought well heck, let’s put some sweet potatoes in there as well to have a full meal deal all in one!

So a lot of people ask me how I come up with recipes, a lot of the time it stems from cravings, meals eaten while travelling that I want to re-create, whats in my fridge/pantry, but usually it all hits me when I’m at the market or grocery store and I come across produce that are simply irresistible… this week they were a glimmering meyer lemon, a bundle of fresh fragrant dill and massive russian garlic cloves, that’s when I decided this chicken was gonna have a rub down in citrus, garlic and herbs with a shake of paprika! Love it when flavors fall into my shopping bag like that 🙂

Layering all the veggies down into the pan is so satisfying, being overly type A this means it has to be coordinated and patterned when I do it… no just tossing it all in… that results in slight anxiety for me! The beets and sweet potato I used my mandolin to slice them up into circles, not too thick so they roast and layered the bottom of the pan, then added onion and fennel slices. I had to take a moment to stand back and admire all those colors!

Alright, let’s get to the recipe!

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken – giblets removed, rinsed

1 small sweet potato – sliced

1 large golden beet – peeled & sliced

1 large red beet – peeled & sliced

1 head of fennel – ends trimmed & cut into slices

1/2 medium yellow onion – cut into slices

For the rub:

1/2 cup fresh dill – chopped

2 tbsp olive oil (or butter)

2 cloves garlic – crushed

3 sprigs of rosemary – diced

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp fresh orange juice

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp each lemon & orange zest

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

Time to cook:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add your rub ingredients together in a bowl (except 1 tsp salt & 1/4 cup dill) and mix well.

In a roasting pan layer your sweet potato, then beets and finish with onions & fennel.

Add half of your sauce to your vegetable mix and coat evenly.

Rinse your chicken, trim any fat and place on top of vegetables.

Salt & pepper chicken in and out, stuff the inside of your chicken with 1/4 cup dill and I placed 3-4 lemon rings in there as well, then rub your chicken in the rest of the rub.

I tossed any extra dill & zest on top!

Put chicken in oven for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then turn down to 400 and roast for another 40-45 minutes or so until done through, juices clear.

Let it rest a few minutes while everyone is getting seated and then dish out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s an easy, lovely, healthy, minimal clean up kinda dish and really yummy dinner idea, I’m sure your family and guests will love it! Another reminder that if you wanted to try out a delivered to your doorstep grocery experience, SPUD.ca provides to your doorstep delivery of local, organic products as well as an entire online grocery store of amazing produce and other products such as whole organic chicken! Use PROMO code: PINCH to receive $20.00 of your first order of $60.00! No sign up or memberships, just shop once to check it out, it is amazing! Let me know what you think of this recipe as well as SPUD.ca f you try it out, thank you for reading and your support everyone. Have a lovely rest of your week and weekend! XOXO

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One Dish Dinner – Baked Salsa Chicken

Forgive me for the tardy new recipe post… it’ been a whirlwind kind of month with lots of work, new puppy life and all the in between! Not to mention the official gear up towards… dare I say it… Christmas! I told myself this year I was going to be vigilant and on top of Christmas gifts and to do lists. No, I have not bought a single gift nor have I made my house appear like Santa’s workshop, just give me a few more days… hopefully 🙂 With life buzzing by, it’s easy to get lost in it all and I catch myself hurrying and forgetting the mantra of “live in the moment”, so what can I do to create more time and make the time I do have count? Simple, create a meal where it takes 5 minutes to prep and 40 minutes to bake which = more time with the hubs and pups! So here is a one dish dinner – Baked Salsa Chicken on rice. Easy, simple, minimal ingredients, healthy, delicious and best of all, a time saver!

This recipe came about as I was late for something, probably work and needed to have dinner for my shift and I suppose I’ll leave the husband some food as well. The fridge was bare bones but I had some chicken breasts, a jar of salsa, one bell pepper and I always have some brown rice in the pantry for emergencies. I was feeling slightly lazy and felt that making rice in that moment was too difficult, so I decided to trial a one dish kinda meal, throw it all in and hope for the best! Best friggin idea I’ve had in a while, it all baked together beautifully. The rice soaked up the juice from the salsa and chicken, such a flavor filled meal with such minimal effort, this is happiness! You can make this Baked Salsa Chicken in a giant dish to feed the whole fam or have left overs for a couple of days. Win win!

When I say 5 minutes of prep time, I actually mean it. ALL you have to do for this dish is pour rice, chop cilantro and peppers, season chicken and pour salsa over it all. Pop your masterpiece in the oven and go spend your precious time with those that matter to you!

So now that I have left overs and don’ have to cook constantly, time to hit up all the Christmas Markets around Calgary! I’m hoping to get the my favorite Spruce Meadows Christmas Market (does sipping on mulled wine while you shop at the coziest market around sound AMAZING to anyone?!) Yes, obviously! The other market that I’ve never actually been too, but I frequent it a lot in the summers, is the Saskatoon Berry Farm Christmas Market, I’ll let you know what I think of it! Can’t wait for yummy eats, locally made gifts, stocking stuffers and the spirit of Christmas to hit me square in the face. What are your favorite Christmas Markets around Calgary, let me know!

Alright back to this Baked Salsa Chicken! Here is what you’ll need:

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts (chicken thighs work great as well)

1 cup of your favorite salsa

1 Orange bell pepper – cut into strips

1/2 cup brown rice or rice of your choice (if you are using brown rice, I recommend the quick cook brown rice)

3/4 cup chicken stock or water

1 garlic clove

1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1 tbsp chopped green onion

1/2 tsp salt (divided)

1/2 tsp chili powder

Fresh ground black pepper

Like I said before… Easy peezy to make!

How to Make:

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pour your rice into a baking dish, sprinkle with chopped cilantro, green onion, add minced garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and pepper.

Add chicken breasts on top of rice, season chicken with salt, chili powder and pepper.

Throw strips of bell pepper around chicken, pour water/chicken stock into dish then top off the dish with salsa.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until rice is soft and chicken is baked through.

YUMMY!

So there you have it, A Baked Salsa Chicken recipe that I’ve created for you to perhaps free up some of your time to either relax, spend with loved ones or who am I kidding… get something else done that I am behind on… Christmas shopping and decorating here I come! Hope you enjoy this quick and delicious one dish recipe! Enjoy the last couple weeks of November everyone! Xoxo

 

 

 

 

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Quick Veggie Chickpea Curry

Hola everyone! So I was staring in my fridge today wondering what I could possibly make to warm me up after a long walk in the chilly outdoors with the new pup. I was slightly hangry, but I knew I was craving that bowl of warmth and nothing else would suffice, so a quick curry was in order! With my recent SPUD delivery, I ordered the Best of Fall Box and received some gorgeous local sweet carrots, local tomatoes and onion, I thought this could be a great base for a Quick Veggie Chickpea Curry! This turned out insanely delicious, I was actually impressed with the layers of flavor I was able to attain in less than 30 minutes, YUM!

I’m recently focusing on quick, filling meals that are nourishing, satisfying and are also wonderful left over food for work. This Quick Veggie Chickpea Curry hits all those check marks, filled to the brim with veggies and your chickpeas are a wonderful protein source for those of you that don’t care for meat. I usually tend to have a lot of these ingredients on hand, hopefully you guys do too so you can make a batch of this scrumptious curry ASAP! I will also continue to rave about SPUD.ca, many of you know I recently became an affiliate for SPUD.ca, a highly recommended company that provides local, organic groceries to your doorstep. Just hop on SPUD.ca, shop online and you’ll have your groceries at your door on your delivery date, this saves so much time and the produce is local and tasty AF! I will also give you a PROMO CODE so you can get $20 off your first order of $60, the CODE: PINCH gets you this discount at checkout, hooray!

Alright, so a tasty quick meal in under 30 minutes is what we all dream of, am I right?! Let’s keep it real, in and out of the kitchen, more time for whatever your vice is (mine currently is Outlander on Netflix) and get food in our bellies ASAP! I always find if I start by prepping all of my ingredients, get my spices measured out and ready, cooking goes much more smoothly and a lot of time is saved. You’re also not running like a chicken with your head cut off through the kitchen, that always restores the faith your family has in your cooking skills while they watch you cook… just saying.

Hopefully you have these ingredients lying around!

Serves 2:

1 tsp avocado oil/coconut oil

1/2 medium yellow onion – thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 tsp fresh grated turmeric (or 1/2 tsp dried)

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp yellow curry powder

1/2 tsp red chili flakes

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 medium carrot – very thinly sliced into circles

2 large tomatoes – chopped

1 cup vegetable broth

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1 can (540ml) drained and rinsed chickpeas

1 large handful of spinach

Toppings:

Cilantro

Avocado

Here we go:

Place a medium pot over medium heat & heat oil.

Add your onions and all of your spices, saute until fragrant and onions softening, approximately 5 minutes.

Add your thinly sliced carrots, saute another 5 minutes.

Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, tomatoes and chickpeas, allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Stir in your spinach at the end until just wilted.

Scoop into your favorite bowl, top of with goodies, kick back, watch Netflix and dig in!

Hope this Quick Veggie Curry Bowl keeps you warm this weekend and hits the spot! Tag me in any of your A Pinch of Nurse creations on Instagram @apinchofnurse or Facebook, or I do love getting all your messages as well! Almost a long weekend for most of us, let’s take a moment to remember on Saturday as well! Thanks for reading and all your support everyone, XOXO.

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I’m Working With SPUD.ca, Groceries at Your Doorstep, PROMO Code Below!

You guys, I have some very exciting news! I am thrilled to announce my new partnership with SPUD.ca, a grocery delivery company here in Calgary that I support wholeheartedly, let me introduce you to SPUD.ca, an initiative that delivers local and organic groceries to your doorstep! I even have a Promo code for you guys to try out with your first order, $20.00 off your order of $60.00 or more, keep reading! SPUD works directly and closely with local farmers to bring to you local, organic and sustainable groceries, pretty awesome right!? Imagine the time saved if you don’t have to grocery shop!

Image by SPUD.ca

So how does it work? You simply head over to SPUD.ca and start shopping, no sign up, no memberships, just shop and on your communities delivery date, you will get your groceries on your front step by a friendly SPUD employee. You can check out when the SPUD truck will be delivering in your area by clicking on the “delivery areas” tab in the top right hand of their website. The selection and quality of their produce and grocery items are substantial, they also have flash sales, new seasonal produce boxes you can choose from or pick all your items individually. I order regularly from SPUD as it saves me time from having to visit 2 -3 stores around Calgary and enables me to eat local, organic and sustainable food/products with a busy schedule. I don’t think I need to explain the immeasurable benefits of eating/supporting local and organic, but here are some benefits!

  • the produce is fresher and bursting with flavor as it can be picked when ripe and in transit for a much shorter period to get to your doorstep
  • supporting local farmers keeps jobs and our local farms plentiful and healthy
  • helps boost our economy
  • allows our communities to stay connected and value our farmer’s hard work and produce

The best part of receiving a SPUD delivery, it feels like Christmas every time you get that blue container full of goodies!

Image by SPUD.ca

Now let’s get to the good part already so you can start shopping, PROMO CODE time! SPUD.ca has been generous enough to provide you with $20 off if you order $60 or more, how can you go wrong with $60 worth of groceries for $40 bucks! Just type in the code: PINCH at checkout in the promo bar and BAM, $20 bucks off your first order. It’s simple and easy shopping, no stress of finding a parking stall, dealing with pushy people, shopping carts or the worry of wondering where your food is coming from. Watch my video below for a sneak peek of my last delivery and a pretty neat break down of where your produce is coming from and how far it has traveled to get into your kitchen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have for you a quick squash recipe from my SPUD produce delivery! This week I ordered the Seasonal Fall Produce Box and in it were some gorgeous and fresh ingredients, some delicata squash, tomatoes and shallots, here is what I made with it!

Roasted Delicata Squash with Tomatoes, Shallots & Parmesan:

1 delicata squash – washed, cut into rings & de-seeded

1/2 tbsp olive oil/avocado oil

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 small shallot – thinly sliced

1 tbsp fresh thyme – diced or (1 tsp dried)

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tbsp shaved Parmesan

Fresh squeeze of lemon juice

How to Make:

Heat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit, take out a non stick baking sheet.

Toss your de-seeded squash rings with olive oil, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper.

Add your tomatoes & onion to the mix and toss.

Add to your baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes, flip, bake another 15 minutes or until squash is soft.

Squeeze some fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with Parmesan right out of oven, dive in!

This recipe is simple but so tasty! You can even add a piece of chicken breast to the same pan while roasting and there you have it, your groceries waiting at your door for you and then dinner in under 35 minutes! I would LOVE to hear from you guys on your thoughts and any questions you might have about SPUD.ca. You won’t be disappointed with them and imagine the things you can get done when you don’t have to go grocery shopping! Don’t forget to use the PROMO code: PINCH, at checkout to get your discount. Have a wonderful week everyone!

Imagine by SPUD.ca

 

 

 

 

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Honey Sriracha Kabocha Squash Bites

Squash, squash, squash, so many types of squash out there right now, it can get overwhelming when picking through all the lumpy, bumpy, vibrant squashes! In the end you probably give up on them because you wonder what the heck you’re going to do with it anyways, am I right? You will no longer have to give up on the squash bin because I have trialed and tested 3 squash recipes and I am sharing my favorite baked squash recipe, my Honey Sriracha Kabocha Squash bites are seriously off the charts. Sweet squash, heat from the sriracha and bakes to a beautiful honeyed caramelized bite, makes a mouth-watering mean side dish or snack!

I too am guilty of always grabbing the butternut squash or pumpkin to cook or bake with, so I wanted to shake things up and grab a different squash every time I hit the market. I tested this recipe on Acorn, Kobucha and Red Kuri Squash, flavor and texture wise I loved the Kabocha squash the most, the Red Kuri squash was a very near second! So in my recipe today I am featuring the lovely Kabocha squash, AKA, Japanese Pumpkin, which I think is butternut squashes better tasting & under rated sister, with half the calories & carbs, packed with Vitamins A & C, iron and fiber! It’s flavors similar to a cross between butternut and a sweet potato, with stunning orange flesh, if I haven’t sold you yet, another added bonus to the Kabocha squash is the skin is edible as well. No heavy-duty peeling is necessary! How do you pick the best of the bunch you ask? Always go with the most vibrant in color and heaviest for its size, as well as try stay local/organic. I plucked my beauty of a squash from the Calgary Farmer’s Market imported from B.C., sustainable and local, what else could you ask for.

With this recipe I opted to peel the skin off because I love how they baked into even little caramelized spicy bites that have a slight crispy outer layer and creamy sweet squash in the middle, but you certainly don’t have to. So, how in the world do you begin to even cut and clean your squash? First wash your squash well, then take a large vegetable knife and carefully cut the squash in half vertically, then take a large spoon and scoop out the seeds/string goop until all cleaned out. I find if you cut the squash into slices, it is easier to peel with a small knife or just lay each slice on its side and cut the skin off, these are my techniques that I find work rather dandy without losing a finger… or setting a not so fake Halloween scene in your kitchen… then chop the squash into bite sized pieces.

Now many of you may already know that we have a new family member that recently and very suddenly joined our family! We welcomed a very resilient, sweet and high energy rescue Husky puppy, meet Nara! She is always on the go, chewing on all that moves and loves any attention, so I needed a recipe that I could prep within 10 minutes and pop in the oven in order to get back to chasing this little one around! She loves to assist me in cooking, picture-taking and blogging… by assisting I mean she is a little vacuum on the kitchen floor, she keeps my feet warm by lying on my feet while in the kitchen, she curiously explores the different squash options I had displayed and she loves to grab and trot off with any photography props I’ve set up… what a helper… good thing is cute!

Let’s get to your ingredient list:

  • 1 kabocha squash (approx 4 cups), peeled & cut into bite size pieces
  • 1.5 tbsp sriracha (decrease this amount if you don’t want it overly spicy)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Optional toppings:

  • drizzle of sesame oil
  • sesame seeds

Make & Bake:

Heat oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix your sriracha, honey, lime juice and coconut oil together until mixed well, you can put it in the microwave for 15 seconds or so if your coconut oil & honey are solid.

Pour your honey mixture over your diced squash, then toss your squash with salt, pepper & onion powder.

Pour onto baking sheet, bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway.

Enjoy fresh out of the oven!

These Honey Sriracha Kabocha Squash bites are seriously addicting you guys, easy to make and I do love me something spicy! I had these for dinner last night with some garlic asparagus and a beautifully poached egg on top of these squash bites, divine! Now you know how to use up your squash and you can become an expert squash picker, is that a career path in your near future perhaps? 🙂 I love hearing from you all of you, thank you for stopping me at work, sending me a message, leaving a review on the website and tagging me in your recipe making, it makes me so grateful for all of your support, love and willingness to try out new recipes! I hope you all have a lovely rest of your week, XOXO!

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Sweet Potato & Carrot Chipotle Latkes

I LOVE latkes! I actually had forgotten my love for these creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside little patties of goodness until I scanned my fridge/kitchen and realized I needed to use my abundance of sweet potatoes and I had gotten a 10 lb bag of the sweetest carrots from the market a few days prior. I personally am always inclined to throw some heat in with sweeter ingredients, it makes such a yummy contrast! So for lunch I got a hold of my trusty grater and baked up some healthy, Sweet Potato & Carrot Chipotle Latkes with some lime avocado mash!

Did you know carrots actually have two seasons? Obviously we can get them year round, but you will find some of the best and most flavorful carrots around Spring & Fall, not to mention the colorful varieties that I always cave in and buy… way too tempting! With my massive bag of seasonal and local carrots, giant sweet potatoes, a little bit of red pepper and sweet yellow onion, I was off on my grating marathon! I weirdly enjoy watching my vegetables get grated to oblivion, kind of therapeutic actually. I coarsely grated all of those up, now we have a latke base that provides us with lots of beta-carotene, vitamins, antioxidants, potassium & fibre! With the base of the latke created, time to create a binding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for the binding, to hold these babies together I used egg whites, oat flour and of coarse some spices to kick things up a notch! You know me, spices are my best of best friends, they fulfill and make my taste buds dance 🙂 I went a little Mexican with the flavors because who can resist chipotle!? A smoked chili ground into a deep dark powder that livens up recipes and other flavors! A dash of garlic, onion powder, paprika and a squeeze of lime juice, let’s get our hands dirty and form these yummy latke cakes, my favorite part, then bake away. I always opt to baking over frying, so much better for you! The key to the creamy insides here and crispy outside is a oven on higher heat and baking for 35 – 40 minutes or so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me break down the ingredients for you and some instructions for these Sweet Potato & Carrot Chipotle Latkes:

3 cups lightly packed sweet potato – coarsely grated

1 medium carrot (approx 1/4 cup) – coarsely grated

1/2 red pepper (approx 1/4 cup) – coarsely grated

1/4 medium sweet yellow onion (approx 1/4 cup)  – grated

2 egg whites

2 tbsp oat flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp dried garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp lime juice

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp salt

pinch of chipotle powder (if you like more heat, add more)

Avocado Mash:

1/2 ripe avocado

1 tsp lime juice

Pinch of salt & pepper

Creating your Sweet Potato & Carrot Chipotle Latkes:

Makes approximately 9 latkes:

Heat oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit & line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly oil.

Combine grated ingredients in a bowl, take some folded over paper towel (about 2 sheets) and press excess water out of your vegetables, press firmly a few times until your paper towel is soaked.

In a separate bowl combine the rest of your ingredients and whisk together well.

Pour your egg & spice mixture into your vegetables and coat evenly.

Make palm sized latkes in your hands and firmly press together, some liquid will be pressed out, this is okay, place latke onto sheet and press down slightly on the latke when on the sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes and the carefully flip and bake another 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crispy on the outside.

While baking, you can make your avocado mash, mix all ingredients together and mash!

Serve hot with a dollop of avocado mash, YUM!

They are such a great lunch or snack idea, fun to make and you can use up your vegetables! I even took them for lunch the next day, not as crispy but still so flavor filled and filling. I also can’t wait to share some exciting news with all of you regarding a local collaboration, coming very soon and a saving opportunity for you all! I’d love to hear if you created these yummy latkes and what you thought, xoxo! Almost weekend time everyone, hooorayy!

 

 

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Pumpkin Spiced Teff Pancakes with Pomegranate Maple Drizzle

Happy Friday… the 13th… spookyyyy! I present to you on this Friday, pancakes for the weekend! So pancakes, you either love em or you don’t. I never used to care for plain ok pancakes really, they offered no nutritional value, felt kinda dry in the mouth and left me feeling heavy. I decided to turn this bland pancake world upside down and punch up the nutritional value with a denser, spiced, moist pancake that energizes me for the day instead, now that’s what I’m talking about! Then to make this pancake situation even more exceptional, I added a fresh maple pomegranate drizzle to finish it all off, what a masterpiece. Let me introduce you to a lovely fall breakfast of, Pumpkin Spiced Teff Pancakes with Pomegranate Maple Drizzle… mmmmm. What else could you possibly make for breakfast this weekend?

I knew I had to get a fall breaky recipe out to you guys, to enjoy these weekend mornings with bites of pumpkiny spiced goodness, I also HAD to incorporate pomegranates, tis the season and they are so tasty and mysterious! I have to say, the pomegranate maple drizzle really makes this recipe bloom, the pops of sweet pomegranate with hints of spice and a warm bite of pancake, I was truly in my happy place testing these out. I did have to trial a couple batches due to initially quite a dense pan… more like pound cake… so I went back to drawing board and finally came out with a pancake I found quite delicious. I personally like a bit of weight to my pancakes, a little on the denser side, slightly crispy on the outside, but still manages enough fluff to soak up that pomegranate maple juice of course!

I decided to keep working with teff flour as I have had great results in other recipes and I can’t get enough of its unique taste, so that’s what I did! Also, like I mentioned before, I do love a pancake with a little density that will keep me full for the day, so I decided on whole small flake quick oats to be a part of this pumpkin dream! Then I threw in some pumpkin spice, cinnamon, citrusy ginger to highlight the pumpkin and spices! I wanted the challenge of creating a more than edible, enjoyable in fact, vegan pancake, so I stuck to using a “flax egg” (1 tbsp milled flax mixed with 2.5 tbsp water) you can use 1 egg if you want, almond milk & of course that gorgeous orange pumpkin puree. I ate every last pancake.

The recipe is pretty straight forward and you’ll have it whipped up in 20 minutes, eating in 30 minutes, coffee in hand and pancakes in the other, yum!

Here are the ingredients:

Makes 10 medium pancakes:

1 cup teff flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

1/2 cup quick oats

1.5 tsp baking powder

1 tsp pumpkin spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

1.25 cup almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)

1/2 pumpkin puree

1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp juice from fresh grated ginger or dried

1 tbsp milled flax mixed with 2.5 tbsp warm water (let this sit for 5 minutes)

If you like your pancake on the sweeter side add a tbsp or so of your favorite sweetener, maple syrup, honey, sugar etc.

Pomegranate Maple Drizzle:

1 large pomegranate

1/4 cup maple syrup (I use ED Smith No Sugar Maple Syrup)

How to make these glorious pancakes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Create your flax egg by adding 1 tbsp of flax and 2.5 tbsp warm water, blend well and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Add all your dry ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.

Add your wet ingredients into another bowl and whisk well, add your “flax egg” to your mixture.

Slowly add your dry ingredients to your wet and mix well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heat a pan over low/medium heat, lightly oiled.

Once the pan is heated, spoon your batter into pancakes onto the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes a side on low, flip and cook another 5 minutes or so.

While your pancakes are cooking away, cut your pomegranate in half and loosen the skin slightly by stretching out the rind just to loosen the seeds, place the pomegranate in your hand, seeds facing down and take a wooden spoon and hit the back of the pomegranate over a bowl full of water. Your seeds will be sent flying into the water and any extra unwanted white rind will be left floating! Scoop out the unwanted bits and pour out your water. Add your maple syrup to the seeds and muddle with the syrup, just enough to release the juices but not completely broken down. Best pomegranate hack ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once all your pancakes are cooked, drizzle your pomegranate maple sauce all over, top with crunchy pepitas, a shake of cinnamon and EAT! SO good and good for you, love it when the two coincide 🙂 Hopefully you guys get to try these out ASAP, let me know what you think, had to get a little pumpkin spice in there somewhere!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The finished product once again, Pumpkin Spiced Teff Pancakes with a Pomegranate Maple Drizzle, on its way onto your plates and into your happy bellies! Happy almost weekend! XOXO

 

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