Monday, March 31, 2014

Cheesy Beef & Rice Casserole

Are you looking for a quick and easy dinner to make tonight, but don't have a whole lot kicking around the house in your pantry and cupboards? If so, look no further, I have a casserole for you that requires very little time and ingredients; most of the stuff required you should already have laying around the house.

Ladies and gents, I give you; Cheesy Beef & Rice Casserole!

I found this recipe recently on the blog "Hungry Little Girl", which may I add also has a bunch of other delicious recipes for dinner, desserts, and so much more. I made it for dinner the same night I came upon the recipe, and I promise you, it did not disappoint.


1 lbs ground beef (lowest fat amount possible)
2 onions, diced
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 small can tomato sauce
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup sour cream (I use fat free)
2 cups shredded cheese
salt, pepper, oregano
1 cup frozen peas

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Spray a skillet with cooking spray and turn on the heat to high.
Saute the onions for a few minutes.

Add ground beef and garlic to the skillet, brown the ground beef completely, turn heat to medium
Spice with salt, pepper and oregano how you like it (I like to add a bit of chili powder & cayenne pepper).

Add rice, peas, tomato sauce, 1 cup cheese and broth, let simmer for 3 minutes.

Transfer everything into a casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile combine the rest of the cheese with the sour cream
After 15 minutes pour the cheese and sour cream mixture on top of you casserole and bake for another 15 minutes.

Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve & enjoy!

It's that easy, and trust me, you will not be disappointed with this dish.

Take Care,


Friday, March 28, 2014

POP Pilates Inner Thigh Toner

If you've never tried Pilates before, trust me, you need to give it a try. The leg workouts alone will give you amazing results, and I can personally stand behind that statement; back when I was in high school I used to do a Mari Winsor Pilates thigh workout dvd 3-5 times per week, and by the end of a month or so I had dropped 1 full pant size!

The following picture shows some of the key exercises used in Pilates that give you lean and toned thighs in no time:

Just follow the easy steps in the picture above doing 20-30 reps of each movement (30 for each side when doing the single leg raise and heel pulse) and you're done!

Trust me, you will love how easy this is, and you'll love the results you see even more.

Take Care,


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Baked Sweet Potato Fries {Weight Watchers' Recipe}

Back when I was in high school, one of my best friends' mom was on the Weight Watcher's diet...that or she just really loved using their recipes. Whenever we would have roasted chicken, or other items that may usually come with fries, her mom would always make sweet potato fries from her Weight Watchers' recipe book - all I can say is that recipe is what started my obsession with sweet potato fries.

The recipe is so easy and fairly quick to make, and in the end you have tender and delicious sweet potato fries.

2 lbs large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Half the potatoes, then cut into 1/2 inch wedges.
Toss with oil, salt and pepper in medium bowl.

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet.
Bake, turning once, until browned and crisp, about 35 minutes.

Serve & Enjoy!

Take Care,


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

15 Minute HIIT Fat Blast

If you are like most people, you are very busy. So busy in fact, that there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done, and with that being said, one of the things that you sacrifice when in a time crunch is your workout.

Well hopefully we can change that with this 15 minute fat burning circuit. Now you may be thinking "how is 15 minutes enough?", but with HIIT training your body is constantly being put through high intensity work, followed by a very brief rest period which makes your body work harder and therefore burns more calories than if you were to do a typical workout session at the gym for 30-60 minutes. And let's face it, 15 minutes is really nothing; people will waste 15 minutes on Facebook or browsing the web while waiting for dinner to finish, so why not replace that couch potato activity with high intensity physical activity?!

So what you will be doing here is 1 minute of exercise, followed by no more than 30 seconds of rest (I suggest 10 seconds of rest for best results). For example: 1 minute of fast jumping jacks, 30 seconds of rest, 1 minute of burpees, 30 seconds of rest, etc. 

You will go through the entire list at least once; or if you would like to kick it up a notch and feel like you want more, repeat 1-2 more times!

Take Care,


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Maximize Space {Closet Office}

By any chance do you want a home office space, but aren't quite sure where to put it in your home?
Okay, now do you have a random closet that you barely use in a spare room, or other area of your home?

If you answered "yes" to these questions, or are even just a little bit curious as to where I'm going with this, then read on.

As you can see in the image above, using a closet for another purpose, other than storing clothes, can be both beautiful and functional.

You can make it as simple or elaborate as you wish; just add a small desk inside with some shelving and desk organizers and you are well on your way to creating your very own office nook in a closet.

I would also like to point out the clever use of a mirror on the interior of the closet; this gives the illusion of a bigger space and can also brighten the closet up by reflecting any light within this small space.

Take Care,


Monday, March 24, 2014

Beef Enchilada Stuffed Shells

Have you ever tasted the delicious dish, enchiladas? Okay, now have you ever tried Beef Enchilada Stuffed Shells?!

Growing up in a home with Italian influence, stuffed shells became one of my favourite meals, and as I got older and tried more foods, Mexican food grew to be one of my other groups of favourite foods. With that being said, you will understand my sheer joy at finding this recipe that combines 2 of my favourite foods into one dish.


Box of Pasta Shells (stuffing size) Boiled to al dente and cooled
2 Pounds Hamburger browned, drained (seasoned with taco seasoning optional)
Large Can Refried Beans
8 oz Block of Colby Jack Cheese (shredded)
8 oz Block of Pepperjack Cheese (shredded)
2 Cans Enchilada Sauce
Green Onion chopped

Spoon a little enchilada sauce on bottom of 9x13 pyrex dish.

Mix refried beans, cooked hamburger and 3/4 of the shredded cheese.
Spoon bean, cheese, meat filling into the boiled and cooled shells.
Place into pyrex.

Cover shells with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.

Bake covered at 350 till bubbly.

Top with chopped green onions and serve.

Take Care,


Friday, March 21, 2014

Putting Weight Into Perspective {Fat vs Muscle}

If you've been working out for a while and have been trying to lose the last 10 lbs (or even more) but haven't seen the number on the scale budge, do not get discouraged yet!

I know that many people have been told, muscle weighs more than fat, but sometimes you need to see it to believe it.

The woman pictured above started out at 123 lbs at the beginning of her fitness goal, and by the end she is super fit...but notice that she is actually 14 lbs heavier than when she started?! 

There you go folks, the proof is in the picture. So next time you are getting hung up on the number on your scale, use the way you look and feel as a gauge of your progress instead.

Take Care,


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Comical Kitchen Decor

Did you grow up in a home where if you didn't want to eat what your parents made as a child, you would basically go hungry...but not actually because you were hungry? That's what I grew up with; you eat what your parents' made or you go hungry, none of this "what would you like to eat tonight?" and special menus for your picky eater.

So in honour of my childhood, and everyone out there that experience the same stance on dinner time in their homes, I give you this hilarious kitchen wall decor!

I am seriously considering buying one of these for my kitchen. What do you think?

Take Care,


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

No-Bake Key Lime Cheesecake

What's better than cheesecake? No-Bake Cheesecake!

It's no secret that I love cheesecake; I could eat it every day for the rest of my life and be happy...much like my love of peanut butter. A few years ago I tried key lime cheesecake and have fallen in love with it ever since (although New York Style Cheesecake will always be my favourite). So, when I found this recipe for No-Bake Key Lime Cheesecake, I had to share it.

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1 8-ounce package of light cream cheese, softened
1 8-ounce tub of whipped topping, thawed
1/3 cup fresh key lime juice
1 tbs. lime zest (optional...but it will make it taste even better with it)
1/3 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk

Melt the butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Divide the graham cracker crumbs evenly amongst individual serving bowls or ramekins and press down to make a crust. Drizzle some of the butter over the crumbs in each dish. Place the bowls in the freezer.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, whipped topping, key lime juice, zest, and the condensed milk until well-combined.

Remove the bowls from the freezer. Pipe or spoon the filling into each bowl. Add additional whipped topping and other desired toppings. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving (overnight is best).

Now serve and enjoy!

Take Care,


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Preventing Shin Splints {Treadmill Tweak}

Are you a runner that suffers from shin splints but don't know how to prevent them? If that sounds like you, or you have a friend or family member with this problem, read on!

Even if you do not currently suffer from shin splints, you could one day if you don't take proper precautions, so you may want to read on just to save yourself unnecessary pain later (trust me, shin splints can be brutally painful and make tasks like driving difficult).

To keep it simple; when running on a treadmill you are running on a flat surface. This repetitive motion causes added stress on your joints and muscles which can lead to muscles tears that can cause shin splints - even when you think that you are running on flat ground outside, you are always on a slight incline, whether you realize it or not. So to sum up; running on a flat surface or decline will contribute to shin splints.

So how can you avoid  getting these awfully painful shin splints? Simply increase your incline on the treadmill to at least 1.0 (this mimics a fairly level running surface that you would experience if you were running outside). 

This simple adjustment that you make to your treadmill can save you much pain later on.

Take Care,


Monday, March 17, 2014

Apartment Hunting Checklist {Want vs Need}

Are you currently at a new and exciting chapter of your life and are looking to move to a new apartment or home? If this sounds like you, stay put, because I am going to give you some handy advice on apartment (or house) hunting and how to narrow down your ideal fit!

Very recently I ended a 3 year relationship and am now faced looking for a new apartment; it is a situation that is filled with mixed feelings but overall I know it is leading me to a new and exciting chapter of my life. I also have one of my best friends who is actively searching in Toronto for her first condo. Recently we had a conversation about house hunting and she was expressing how she was a bit overwhelmed on finding a place that was the right fit. This is when I explained to her the apartment/house hunting checklist.

How the checklist works is that you have 3 columns; "Need", "Want", and what I like to refer to as "Bonus". Now comes the fun part; make a separate list of all the things you would ideally have in your dream apartment/home. Once you have this list, look at each item and really think hard; ask yourself questions like "if the place doesn't have this item, is it a total deal breaker?" (for me, if a place doesn't allow dogs, it is out of the running 100%), also ask "is this something that is nice but I could easily live without?".
 These are the questions that will determine which category your items will go into. 

Once you have a complete list of "Needs", "Wants", and "Bonuses" you can bring that list as a reminder when you go apartment/house hunting and take notes on what each place has to offer. This way you can sit down later and consider all of your options fully and come up with your best fit!

I hope that this post will make your hunt/move a little less overwhelming/stressful.

Take Care,


Friday, March 14, 2014

Homemade Corn Dogs

When you think back to the foods that you used to eat during your childhood what comes to mind? Pizza? Rice Krispie Squares? Baked Beans & Hot Dogs?

For me one of my favourite childhood foods were corn dogs! Even as an adult, these are still a delicious treat that I always look forward to when my town's fall fair comes around. I know that you can buy these at most grocery stores, but nothing is as good as homemade, so I thought I'd share an easy recipe for homemade corn dogs with you!

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup white sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
1 1/8 cups milk
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
2 (16 oz) packages beef hot dogs
16 wooden skewers

In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, white sugar and baking powder.

Add milk and egg to the bowl and whisk well.

Heat oil in a large pot on stovetop until it reaches 350 degrees F.

While oil is heating, insert wooden skewers into hot dogs.

Dip/roll skewered hot dog into batter until completely covered.

Cooking 2-3 corn dogs at a time, cook in oil until golden brown in color, about 3 minutes. Set on paper towels once cooked to drain off any excess oil.

Now serve & enjoy with your favourite condiments!

Take Care,


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spiderman Push-Ups

About a month ago I tried a different type of push up that I am going to share with you today; Spiderman push ups.

This push up is super challenging and works your core and arms even more than a regular push up. I was so impressed with these that now they have become a regular part of my fitness routine.

Here's how you do it; start in a regular push up position with your hands placed on the floor under your shoulders with you toes on the floor (your body should form a straight line).

Now bend your elbows and bring your chest down towards the floor (like a standard push up) but bring your knee out to the side and up to your elbow. Bring your knee back in and return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.

That's 1 rep. Keep going until you have reached 8-12 reps, then take a quick break for 30 seconds and repeat 2 more times.

Take Care,


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Painting With A Popcorn Ceiling

Recently I painted my apartment and found it very frustrating due to my popcorn ceilings; I couldn't get a straight line across the top of the walls due to the textured ceiling.
Go figure that I would come across some useful advice after the fact that I have finished painting, but I thought I would share it to keep anyone who is painting their home that has textured ceilings from experiencing the same frustration as I did.

Here's the simple trick: 
Before you paint, drag a narrow flat-head screwdriver lightly along the ceiling. You'll get a clean paint line and no one will ever notice that the bumps are missing.

That's it! Simple as that. No go ahead and paint without the annoyance that I experienced and learn from my mistakes. I can guarantee you that I will be using this trick from now on.

Take Care,


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Loaded Chicken & Potato Casserole

A few months ago I came across this recipe and thought it looked good so I gave it a try. Guess what? It's amazing! I have made this recipe a few times now and have found ways to make it more to my taste (I like things spicy so that's the main difference between the original recipe and my spin on it). I promise you, this recipe is a crowd pleaser and you will not be disappointed if you try this.

Loaded Chicken & Potato Casserole:
1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cubed (1″)
6-8 medium skin on red potatoes, cut in 1/2″ cubes
1/3 c olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp hot sauce (I use 6 tbsp of Franks Buffalo Sauce to make it spicy)

2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup crumbled bacon (I like to use the pre-packaged bacon bits from the grocery store - it distributes more evenly)
1 cup diced green onion (I usually use 1 whole bundle)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9X13″ baking dish with cooking aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray..

2. In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and hot sauce. Add the cubed potatoes and chicken and stir to coat. Carefully scoop the potatoes and chicken into the prepared baking dish.

3. Bake the potatoes and chicken for 55-60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes, until cooked through, crispy, and browned on the outside. While the potatoes are cooking, fry your bacon (unless you are using the crumbled stuff like I do).

4. Once the potatoes and chicken are fully cooked, remove from the oven. Top the cooked potatoes with the the cheese, bacon, and green onion. Return the casserole to the oven and bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Now serve & enjoy!

Take Care,


Monday, March 10, 2014

How To Break A Plateau

If you know what a weight loss plateau is, you know that it sucks; if you`ve experienced one, you know that it`s frustratingly annoying. If you do not know what a weight loss plateau is, let me enlighten you; simply put, a weight loss plateau is when you have been getting results, only for them to suddenly stop and no matter how much you are working out and eating well, you no are no longer seeing progress in your results.

So if you think that you`ve hit a fitness plateau, here are some of the most common reasons why, and tips on how to fix it:

If you have followed these tips on breaking through your plateau, and you are eating well but are still not seeing results there may be other underlying issues. If this is the case, you may want to consult a doctor as some issues with weight loss can sprout from health issues such as, but not limited to, an under active thyroid, hormone imbalances, or food sensitivities (most common issue can be gluten and/or dairy intolerance). Just remember to consult a doctor before making drastic changes in your diet and exercise.

Take Care,


Friday, March 7, 2014

Shut The Front Door {Colour Psychology}

It has been said for a long time that the colours you choose for a room can establish a definite mood, which is predominantly determined through your paint choice. This is what is referred to as "colour psychology"; in short, colour psychology is the direct /indirect effect that colour can have on your mood.

You may have already been aware that your colour choices in your home establish a mood and set the tone for your home, but did you know that the same thing can be said for your front door?

That's right folks; the colour that you choose to paint your front door can immediately set the tone for the mood of your home before any one even sees the interior.

According to Intracoastal Realty's blog says regarding the colour choices you make for your front door, and what they say about you and what people can expect if your home based on your colour choice:

Blue: Rest Stop - Behind the blue door is an owner who thinks first of the home as a refuge: calm, serene, and relaxing, the perfect retreat from an often harsh and demanding world. 

Green: Peace Conservatory. Green connotes health, safety, tranquility, and harmony, all highly desirable attributes for the home environment. 

Black: Power Center. A black front door projects strength, sophistication, power, and authority, indicating to all who enter or even passersby that the home is a serious place inhabited by a person of substance. 

White: White is a classic color for doors, especially on a cottage style home. Throughout history, white has come to represent purity, serenity, and virtue. 

Red: A color with punch, red is vibrant, full of life, energy and excitement. Here's an exciting place to live. In Scotland, homeowners paint their front door red to signify they have paid off their mortgage. 

Purple: Purple is a pretty popular color for front doors. It's symbolizes energy and is thought to invite many opportunities into your home. Purple is universally known as the most spiritual and versatile color in the spectrum. 

Yellow: This color fosters mental sharpness and creates a sense of happiness and well-being. In Western cultures, yellow has contradicting meanings. On one hand, it denotes joy, happiness, imagination and hope. On the other hand, it symbolizes cowardice, jealousy and dishonesty. Depending on where you live, use yellow as a door color with caution. 

Brown: Painted or stained brown says "natural" and "organic" and feels warm, stable and reliable. However, darker shades can be foreboding, signaling a desire for privacy or isolation. 

Growing up in my parents' home, we had a mahogany painted front door (mahogany is a mixture of red and purple); if you read the descriptions for these colours red is energizing and exciting, while purple is spiritual and energizing. These characteristics are amazingly spot on for my parents home and also perfectly reflected both of their personalities. Now whether they realized these things at the time or not will remain a mystery to me, however, it's quite interesting how something as simple a s a front door paint colour can not only set a tone for your home, but can also reflect who the homeowners are as well.

What is your front door colour, and do you think it represents you and your home accurately? If not, maybe it's time for a change!

Take Care,


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Copycat Starbucks Lemon Loaf

One of my favourite items on Starbucks' menu is their Lemon Loaf Cake. If you like lemon flavoured desserts, you will love this recipe! And if you haven't already tried it, you have fact, go out to Starbucks right now and get a slice to try because it is amazing!

So without further delay, here is the copycat Starbucks Lemon Loaf Cake recipe:

Starbucks Lemon Loaf Recipe:

  • 1 box Yellow Cake Mix
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1 box (3.4 oz) Instant Lemon Pudding Mix
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 8 oz Sour Cream
  • 6 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Glaze:
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 4 tbsp Lemon Juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray two loaf pans with non stick spray.

Beat all of the cake ingredients until well combined.
Evenly fill both loaf pans.

Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick insert in middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from pans.

Combine glaze ingredients and stir until well blended.
Drizzle over loaves and allow to set before slicing.

No sit down and enjoy this absolutely delicious lemon loaf!

Take Care,


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Drop A Pant Size Workout

I think you'll agree with me that dropping a pants size would be pretty great. I find that one of most common trouble spots for women is their legs, more specifically, their thighs. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard a woman complain about their legs, I would be pretty wealthy.

So with that being said, how about we stop complaining, and/or wishing, and start doing. This workout that I am going to share with you is called the "Drop a Pants Size Workout", and if you are diligent and stick with this routine (and combined with a healthy diet) you will see results and in fact drop a pants size...or more!

Here's what you need to do; go through each exercise with 0-1 minute of rest in between each move. Once you have completed all of the moves listed, you will repeat the routine 2 more times (a total of 3 sets). After you have done 3 sets of this workout, finish off with moderate level cardio for 20 minutes. 

Do this workout 2-3 times per week, with 20-30 minutes of cardio on days in between. That's it, you're now well on your way to dropping a pants size!

Take Care,


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Console Vanity Designs

Today I am going to talk about bathroom vanities. Most people don't realize this, but there is a rule of thumb when it comes to vanity designs; if the space for a vanity in a bathroom is 36" wide or less it can only have 2 doors (no drawers) due to spacial requirements and plumbing, if the space is 36"-47" wide you will have what is called a console vanity, and anything over 48" in width typically will have doors and drawers (typically with a bank of drawers in the middle of the vanity when there are 2 sinks).

Today I am going to briefly discuss console vanities and ways that you can take them from their standard look and turn them into a more beautiful and unique design.

The image above is a standard console vanity, which has 2 doors at the base and 2 small drawers at either side (a false panel is in the middle). This configuration is typically what you will get as a standard layout unless you express to a designer that you want to maximize storage and do not wish to have full doors below.

Now this vanity (pictured above) takes a standard vanity and maximizes space by utilizing 2 deep drawers below the top standard console drawers.
One thing that I would like to point out is that the first deep drawer will typically be "U"-shaped as the center will require a cut out for the plumbing of your sink. The second drawer can usually be a standard deep drawer (no "U"-shaped cut out required).

As you can see, there are ways you can take what most people see as limitations and turn them into something unique and functional. The second console vanity configuration drastically maximizes storage, and also in the end gives a more visually desirable design overall.

Take it from me, this is my career designing kitchens and bathrooms; when you sit down with a designer, do not be afraid to ask plenty of questions and see if they can think outside of the box and create something that will stand out and that you will love!

Take Care,


Monday, March 3, 2014

No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of chocolate and peanut in, if I had to live off of peanut butter sandwiches for the rest of my life, I would be happy and perfectly content.

With that being said, I absolutely love making chocloate-peanut butter desserts, and I find that they tend to be real crowd pleasers. So with out further delay, I thought I would share a super simple and delicious recipe for No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars.

 No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars Recipe

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1½ cups chocolate chips
¼ cup peanut butter

In a bowl, melt butter and peanut butter together. Add cracker crumbs, sugar, butter, and peanut butter. Spread mixture evenly into a 9×13 pan.

Melt chocolate chips with peanut butter in 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring between each, until melted and smooth.

Pour chocolate mixture over bars, and frost evenly.

Chill for 40-50 minutes until chocolate is set.

Now serve & enjoy!
Yep, it's that easy.

Take Care,