Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday yiayia!

Greek Galaktoboureko–Cream Milk Pie
We’ll be having some of our fave Greek dessert for you today. One part sweet memories, one part totally bittersweet. Wish you were here. Love and miss you so much.

xo
Christinaki

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Once there was spring, now only autumn winds

Hey there!

So. It’s been quite a while since my last post. The blogging break wasn’t intentional but a lot has been going on on this side of the screen and posting either wasn’t appropriate or just not feasible.

To be honest the last 4 months have been completely awful, full stop.  And, for once, I don’t mean that in my usual sarcastic “teehee, first world problems” way, it’s just the truth.

I have been writing a lot and hope I can get back to light and fun foodie ramblings soon. Heaven knows I need light and fun in my life right now.

One of the most devastating things was losing my yiayia (grandma) last month. She is the most special and wondrous lady and there are no words to express what this loss means to me. Losing her was like losing a 2nd mum, home, and the little bits of childhood we carry with us as adults all at once.

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Life will go on but I don’t need time to understand that it has fundamentally changed and this is a loss I’ll always feel.

Last but not least, to those of you in my real life who have been there; thank you.

The company, support, emails, funny texts, trips and visits are a reprieve from the heavy load and have been lifesavers. Thank you.

xo
C

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A Summer Public Service Announcement

Just a couple of weeks ago I was heralding the start of summer with the first watermelon of the season and a trip to the beach.

Note, by beach I’m referring to what that part of Toronto that has dusty “sand” and rocks beside a body of water. Good enough.

Kew Beach - Toronto
*Disclaimer: Kew beach may not be as gorgeous as pictures in real life.
 

Today I’d like to make a summer PSA and implore you to watch out for a secret summer-killer. The watermelon.

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First is lures you in with it’s pretty green colour. Then you find yourself further enamored with the shocking pink inside.

BUT beware!

Don’t get too caught up in your cold refreshing watermelon dreams and watch out for the latest epidemic, watermelon bite!

What Is It? That moment when you’re cutting watermelon and cut yourself instead.

Treatment? Do not go to the beach, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 – go straight to jail the ER and get stitched back together again.

How you’ll feel? Completely ridiculous. Oh, it’s painful too, just make sure to stop when you hit bone.

The watermelon bite keeps on giving when the too tight stitches take 35 minutes to be removed and leave you with a Frankenstein finger. ;)

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Be careful, it’s a fruity jungle out there!

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ETA: I’m obviously completely fine, still wearing paper stitches and still annoyed at myself.

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Getting Dippy With It – Cho yo fruit dip

Happy Friday! I haven’t done a “Fat Friday” post in a while so lets get back to it, this weeks theme was fruit.

Since we started themed Fridays (aka Fat Fridays) over a year ago we’ve done fruit a couple of times. The first time focused on more exotic fruit like starfruit and dragon fruit and the next time was fruity baked goods.

This time, with so much delicious fruit in season, we went with more traditional fare – lots of strawbs, blubes, all kinds of melons and strawberry shortcake.

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I wanted to bring in something a little different than plain fruit without being junk food. Enter strawb fruit dip, which is too easy to call a recipe so lets call it a how-to on stirring things together ;)

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Strawberry Fruit Dip

1 cup Chobani Greek yogurt
3 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP Vanilla
3/4 cup diced strawberries

Stir together and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving with fruit or nilla wafers.

And that’s how fruit day turned into parfait day (on plates). Om nom nom nom nom

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If you want to be rockstar, be like my coordinator, and top your parfait with a timbit!

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Physio Phun

Yesterday, as my physio therapist spent 5 minutes pushing my knee cap into place, he mentioned he had a surprise for me. Huh, I thought, is there really something better than pushing my bones around?

It was tape time!

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This would have been a better surprise if the tape was a fun colour, like some crazy neon. Sadly the best my therapist could offer was to break out the sharpies. Not quite what I was imagining and my knee is demonstrating its displeasure with hundreds of little spasms. Wheee!

Don’t worry, I’m shutting down the complaints by icing my knee eating freezies – this counts as icing my knee right?!

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Anyway, thankfully the appointment was silly enough to pass quickly. There’s no straight faces when the conversation includes gems like “Do you feel it in your butt?”. Keep your thoughts PG people, this was said while trying to stop me from using my hip flexor during a strengthening exercise – still funny though.

Funny Flirting Ecard: One more drink and I'll show you my knees.

The real joke was on me though, with the fresh tape preventing me from bending my knee I looked seriously ridiculous trying to get into the car. Which reminded me of when I had knee surgery and they sent me home in a brace from hip to ankle. Not only was getting in the car a problem but the tub in my bathroom was just a couple feet in front of the toilet. That was an interesting problem to deal with. Open-mouthed smile

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Weekend Slowdown

Welcome to Tuesday peeps, where we’re even closer to the weekend than we were yesterday, hehe. It’s gross and rainy outside right now so how about we talk about how sunny and enjoyable my weekend was, and you can tell me stories about your weekend, and we’ll have lots of nice things to focus on. Deal?

Let’s start at the beginning; FINALLY a ½ day Friday where I didn’t have to run off to a bunch of appointments.

Naturally I grabbed some delicious noms, first watermelon of the season (!!!!), and jetted for “the beach” which was followed by quality patio time.

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It was bird central at the beach, we counted 12 swans and more than 25 geese. Good news, no one got pooped on.

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Saturday the rain held off so I grabbed my mom for a walk where we saw this zebra bird. Okay, I know, it’s just a bird but neither of had seen one coloured like this before.

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Homemade pizza (store-bought crust) and chilling on the balcony followed. MMMmmmm!

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Sunday was another hot one and nothing sounded better than heading to the beach to bike relax in the sun. My mom came along and thought it was odd being in the city and also on a “beach”, needless to say she was quite amused.

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How cute is she in my t-shirt and hat? I thought she needed some casual beach attire instead of the knit top she was originally wearing, luckily she went along with me. Winking smile

Dinner was a simple summer greens salad topped with grilled chicken.

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And then it was the Mad Men finale which I thought was a bit of a let down, but after 2 intense episodes of course it was going to be more low key. After Mad Men we got caught up watching The Pitch (love it) and didn’t get to bed until waaay past my bed time for a school night (not a complaint) and now it’s another busy week.

So that was my chill weekend, it was so nice to start the week feeling relaxed and rested, I need to have more of these slow weekends. So good!

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Winner Winner Quinoa Taco Bake Dinner

I love working in Marketing because I get to come up with abstract ideas and make ‘em reality. It’s the same blank slate, begging to be filled with something creative, that excites me when I’m in the kitchen.

Of course, there are some not-so-tasty would-be masterpieces along the way but they’re easily forgotten when you create a winner and I’d definitely include this, one of my more abstract recipes, in the winners column.

Cooking grains in broth or tomato sauce is one of my favorite ways to pump up the flavor, so I figured why couldn’t I do the same with quinoa and add a mexican twist.

Enter the Quinoa Taco Bake.

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Ingredients
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
½ packet of taco seasoning
¼ cup nutritional yeast (or substitute for grated cheese)
1 jalapeno pepper – finely diced
1 red pepper – chopped
½ small onion – chopped
1 can black beans – drained and rinsed
½ jar taco sauce (approx. 1.5 cups)
¼ cup grated cheese (Daiya in my case)

Directions
Add quinoa, water and taco seasoning to pot and cook according to instructions (usually bring to a boil, cover, and turn heat to low for 10-15 minutes – until liquid has been absorbed).

Combine cooked quinoa with the rest of the ingredients, except the grated cheese, in a large, oven safe dish and bake at 350* for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with a sprinkle of cheese. Serve in its own or in taco cups.

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Taco Cups

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For the taco cups:
Instead of baking as a casserole line a muffin tin with wonton wrappers and fill with one tablespoon of taco bake and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Top with a sprinkle of cheese. 

Hope you enjoy!

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What I’m loving lately

I haven’t really talked about my knee injury much because who cares? But I’ve been in a bit of a funk since I hurt my “good” knee during a particularly aggressive softball game. No, that’s not an oxy-moron, my competitive team is fierce! As a result of lots sprinting, with jerky stops and starts on a crappy field, I hyper-extended my knee and have been dealing with acute tendonitis and Hoffa’s Syndrome ever since. I learned pretty quickly that combination of injuries is really painful and doesn’t just go away with rest, ice and Aleve. Thumbs down.

Knee injuries are a sore spot for me (literally and figuratively). 10 years ago I had knee surgery on my other knee, afterward I was told the damage was more severe than expected and I needed to quit skating or I would end up with a knee reconstruction. Since I like being able to walk I quit skating and wasn’t able to participate in any sports for years. So even a decade later knee injuries still throw me for a loop and I needed some time to be upset about it.

I also needed to find something that would reduce the pain. It’s hard to move past something that’s constantly reminding you of its presence. I’m foam rolling and doing physio but it was the anti-inflammatory cream, prescribed by my sports medicine doctor, that helped me turn that frown upside down. I was pretty skeptical that this cream was just an $80 prescription version of bengay but it’s been great at taking the edge off the pain, which makes this girl mucho happy!

You don’t realize just how crappy (and cranky) a month of constant pain makes you feel until you’re living with it. So yay Pennsaid, I – and everyone who’s had to put up with me – thanks you. You also go at the top of the ‘things I’m loving lately’ list.

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Other things I’m loving lately are…

Iced Coffee (cold brewed)

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Yummy weekend breakfasts…Chobani and waffles

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Cakepops – because sometimes eating your feelings in the form of 2 cake pops is okay (just as long as you don’t keep eating and eating)

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Relaxing at the beach.

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These girls making my 29th birthday a blast. Honorable mention to The Gladstone Hotel Bar and their 50’s/60’s night party.

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Free tickets to the ballet from the principal dancer performing the title role. Thank you Guillaume (and twitter).

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Hope you’re all having a happy Friday, filled with lots of things you love!

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Chobani in Toronto!

When Chobani throws a dinner party in your ‘hood you know you’re in for a delicious evening! That was certainly the case last night at The Terrace where an awesome group of local bloggers and the fantastic Chobani team gathered for good food and conversation.

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Hidden on the rooftop of a former warehouse The Terrace is only accessible by a private freight elevator that makes you feel like part of a secret club. On the menu was a variety of small bites with a Chobani twist.

Rock shrimp topped with chobani-guacamole was a huge favorite.

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Chicken marinated in yogurt with a lemon grass glaze.

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Split pea soup, served chilled, with minted cho

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Pizza with cho yo

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I was too busy grilling the Chobani crew about when we’d see more flavours in Canada that the grilled calamari, crab cakes and spanakopita with cho yo escaped my camera. Oops!

The good news for my fellow Canucks is that Cho is working on national distribution, we will hopefully see more flavours end of summer (my fingers are crossed) and in the future Canadian Cho will be made in Canada, awesome!

If the evening wasn’t delicious enough, the cho yo parfait bar was definitely the cherry on top!

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What does a girl have to do to have this set up for her every morning? Note, the correct answer is not ‘do it herself’.

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Mmmmm!

Luckily the Chobani crew is fab (and prepared with lids) so round #2 is ready and waiting for brekkie. Can’t wait because we all know I’m not ambitious enough to make this on a weekday!

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A huge thank you to Chobani for a delicious evening and goodie bag, I had a great time!!

If you missed out on last nights fun don’t be sad, hop on over to twitter and check out the #chobaniTO hashtag and follow the awesome ladies I spent the evening with.

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Not just a cup ‘o joe!

It’s no secret amongst my friends that I do not brew a good cup of coffee. Mainly because I don’t drink don’t actually brew coffee. Yep, no morning cup ‘o joe here, just the occasional espresso or latte.

However, I do love iced coffee so there’s often a pot of coffee stuck in my fridge during the  summer. Yes, I actually figured out how to scoop the coffee, add water and even turn the darn coffee maker on ;-). I even ground my own beans. Right!? You can hold your applause to the end.

After cold brewed iced coffee came up multiple times recently I decided to take the plunge and try one of the “recipes” I saved ages ago.

I chose a relatively simple recipe:

11/3 cups ground coffee
8 cups water

Directions
Pour coffee and water into a bowl or carafe and store in the fridge for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

In the morning, line a strainer with a coffee filter (or layers of cheesecloth) and place over an empty bowl. Pour the coffee/water mixture over the strainer to remove the grounds.

Pour yourself a glass over ice (regular or coffee cubes) and store the rest in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.


(Source)

How was it?

Well, if iced coffee could talk this carafe would have crooned “hello, is it me you’re looking for?”.

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Yes, Lionel it was.

No really, this is LIQUID. GOLD. Cold brewing means the coffee is not bitter but deliciously full bodied and silky instead.

So please make this now, don’t wait years like I did. And remember to use a decent coffee, bad coffee will still taste like bad coffee.

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