Buffalo chicken lasagna

Today, I had a food identity crisis: I was going to make lasagna but then I got an intense craving for buffalo wings. What’s a girl to do?

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Make both.

In the form of this buffalo chicken lasagna which, oh baby, is the best of both comfort food worlds (cue Hannah Montana “Best of Both Worlds.”) The buffalo flavour comes from buffalo sauce, ground chicken and blue cheese. Not actual chicken wings, that would be dangerous to eat. Those are just about the only ingredients that stray from the norm of lasagna making. The buffalo sauce plays so nicely with the meat sauce, giving you delicious spicy flavour in every cheesy, carby bite. If you’re not a blue cheese fan, feel free to omit it from the recipe. But this girl lives for blue cheese! I added some to the ricotta filling and sprinkled some extra on top. The cheesier the better, right?!

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Buffalo chicken lasagna

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. of extra lean ground chicken

1/2 an onion, finely chopped

1 celery rib, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can of diced tomatoes, drained

1 bottle (350 mL) of Buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s)

1/2 cup of filtered water

1 1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning

salt and pepper

9 whole wheat lasagna noodles

1 carton (445 grams) of ricotta cheese

2 cups of crumbled blue cheese

1 egg, beaten

3 cups of mozzarella cheese, shredded

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In a large sauce pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until no longer pink. Add vegetables and cook until translucent (about 2-3 minutes.) Add diced tomatoes, spices and wing sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, boil lasagna noodles according to package directions. In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 1/2 cups of the blue cheese. Whisk until combined.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the sauce onto the bottom of a greased 13×9″ baking dish. Layer with three lasagna noodles, 1 1/2 cups of sauce and 2/3 cup of cheese mixture. Repeat layers twice more. Top with two cups of shredded mozzarella and sprinkle with remaining blue cheese.

Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Bake uncovered for another 20-25 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Makes 12 servings.

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Nom nom nom nom nom.

What are your favourite comfort foods to mix?

Xo

Meggs

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Salmon burgers with pineapple salsa

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Oh, hello perfect summer burger.

I have to confess, I was hesitant to try salmon burgers for a while. In fact, I actually don’t even really like salmon to begin with. But, I’d been seeing variations all over the place and figured why not give it a shot? My boyfriend likes salmon so someone will end up eating them if I don’t.

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Take it from a former salmon skeptic, these burgers are the bomb dot com. Perfectly grilled on the outside, tender and fresh on the inside thanks to salmon, dijon mustard and fresh herbs. What really takes these burgers over the top though is the pineapple salsa! If you read my last post, you’ll know that I’ve given up dairy products for the next month. How can you have a great burger without cheese you ask? Top it with some fresh salsa, that’s how. It’s arguably even better than cheese.

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I’m a firm believer that you can make a delicious salsa out of just about anything. Have a spare mango? Some onions? Some canned peaches? Make that into a peach-mango salsa! Use it as dip for chips, a topping for tacos or on top of burgers. It’s so versatile.

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This salsa consists of fresh pineapple, purple onion, tomato, cilantro, lime juice, salt & pepper. I would add some fresh jalapeños or habanero peppers for a little extra kick if you so desire! The salsa comes together so quickly, you can whip it up while you grill the burgers.

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Speaking of grilling, I used a Cuisinart deluxe griddle to make these salmon burger patties. It’s a great alternative for students/young people/people who don’t have a barbecue. It provides all the great flavours and grill marks you’d get from an outdoor grill, but it’s so much simpler to use (and it makes delicious paninis)

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Make these salmon burgers and let me know what you think!

 

Xx

Megs

nutella-stuffed salted dark chocolate cookies

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Sometimes, you need a little indulgence in your life. And these cookies are the perfect form of that. It all starts with a rich, dense and fudgy chocolate cookie that’s delicious on its own. But here at Meggs Benedict, we like to take things over the top! Which is why these cookies are stuffed with Nutella and finished with a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt.

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There’s a reason I made such an indulgent cookie and that’s because…. *drumroll* I am changing my diet from here on out. So these cookies are my last supper essentially (yes, I did eat them for dinner last night.. oops!) I’m cutting out dark meat, dairy and booze for at least the next month. I’ve been super fortunate to never have dietary issues, up until this point. The past year has been marked by some really unhealthy eating and always saying “yes” to junk food, an extra glass of wine or an extra Nutella-stuffed cookie. Up until now, I could eat basically whatever I wanted without suffering the consequences (be that bloating, feeling ill, a change in mood, et.) Since I am starting to suffer the consequences, I’m super excited to start this lifestyle change. I’ll keep you up to date on my journey as well as provide lots of great tasting yet healthy recipes!

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Anyways, back to the cookies.

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A great trick I’ve learned for making stuffed cookies or cupcakes is to freeze the filling beforehand. It’s much neater that way and less likely to ooze out of the cookie while baking and create a big old mess! I took tablespoon amounts of Nutella and froze them on a cookie sheet for around 45 minutes before stuffing them into the cookie dough. The result was much tidier!

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Another handy dandy trick is to put the sea salt on prior to baking. I find it settles into the cookie a little more which means your tastebuds will be blown away by the flavour trifecta! Dense, fudge-like dark chocolate cookie, ooey gooey sweet Nutella and a little bit of salt to cut all that sweetness. I love to add sea salt to even a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe to take it up a notch!

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What are your go-to comfort desserts? Have you ever cut out meat, dairy and/or alcohol from your diet? How did it make you feel?

 

XX

Megs

vegan chai tart

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Who said vegan has to be a bad word when it comes indulging in dessert?

Not me.

My boyfriend on the other hand? Different story. Any time I let the word vegan escape my from my lips, he winces and makes a sound of displeasure (not too different from a five year old being served broccoli) and says “yuck.” It’s gotten to the point where I have to trick him into eating vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free foods. For example, I brought home the most delicious Beechwood vegan doughnuts the other day and he devoured them. It wasn’t until after he’d finished them that I told him they were vegan. I know, this is what you do with children… Is that petty of me?

Anyways, back to the tart at hand (ha ha ha)

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This chai tart is super easy to make. Mainly because it requires no baking. #nobakedessertsftw. The crust consists of shredded coconut and Medjool dates, which when blended together form a delightful, sweet and caramelly dough that would be delicious on its own. It’s then topped with a pie “filling” made from soaked cashews (this is what gives vegan cheesecakes their creamy texture) topped with walnuts and melted chocolate.

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It’s unbeatable. The ooey, gooey crust, silky chai-flavoured filling and chocolate shell pair perfectly together in terms of flavours and textures. I actually told my boyfriend this was vegan and although he turned up his nose at first, I found half the pie eaten when I went to make my breakfast the next morning (which means he or a mouse got to it)

The recipe that inspired this creation called for cardamom and cloves for the chai spice. Well cardamom was $10 at the grocery store soooo I decided to improvise and use a chai tea bag. I do recommend using a high quality brand of chai as that is where the majority of your flavour is going to come from!

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Vegan Chai Tart

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups of pitted Medjool dates

1 cup of shredded coconut

2 tbsp of coconut oil

2-3 tbsp water

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until mixture is well combined and sticky. Spread into a greased loaf or tart pan.

For filling:

3 cups of raw cashews, soaked overnight

1/2 cup of pure maple syrup

1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/4 tsp of cinnamon

1 chai tea bag

1/4 cup of white chocolate chips and dark chocolate chips plus coconut oil for melting

1/3 cup of walnut halves

Blend cashews, maple syrup, vanilla, oil and spices together in your food processor until the mixture is completely combined and creamy. Pour on top of your crust. Top with a drizzle of melted chocolate and walnuts. Freeze for 4-6 hours or overnight. Let stand for 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

What’s your favourite vegan dessert?

XX

Meggs

 

Eggplant parmesan (gluten free!)

Sometimes, all you need is cheese.

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Ooey, gooey, cheesy comfort food. That’s eggplant parmesan in a nutshell.

There are so many ways to make an eggplant parmesan, but I find baking it until it’s nice and crispy and then putting on the sauce and cheese to be the most delicious and crispy. After all, who wants a soggy eggplant parmesan? (Not me!) I made this for my boyfriend’s family who are gluten-free but you can just as easily sub panko breadcrumbs instead of the gluten-free variety I used.

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Another key player in making the perfect eggplant parm? You’ve got to select the perfect eggplant. I picked up this beautiful eggplant at the farmer’s market this past weekend and oh boy, could I taste the difference! This eggplant was grown on a farm within half an hour from where I live, talk about fresh!

Speaking of fresh… now that it’s finally summer here in Ontario I’m getting started on my herb garden! So far I have lavender (my fave) basil, rosemary and cilantro, but I’m hoping to add some thyme and mint among other herbs. For this eggplant parm, I mixed some fresh rosemary and basil from my garden into the seasoning mix for extra freshness. You can really taste it when you get a basil leaf in a bite!

Without further ado, let me give you the recipe!

 

Gluten-free Eggplant Parmesan

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  • One whole eggplant, skinned and sliced into quarter inch rounds
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3/4 cup of gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1  tsp of oregano
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp of fresh herbs, finely diced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of your favourite tomato sauce
  • 2 cups of shredded aged cheddar cheese
  • additional parmesan and herbs for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 F and brush a baking sheet with olive oil. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and water. In a separate mixing bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, herbs and spices until well mixed. Dip eggplant slices into the egg mixture, coating but allowing excess to drip off. Then dredge the slices in the breadcrumb mixture until completely covered. Lay slices evenly on your baking tray so none are overlapping. Bake for 20-25 minutes then flip onto reverse side and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread 1 cup of sauce onto a 9×13″ baking pan. Layer eggplant slices, top with more sauce, shredded cheese, parmesan and repeat. Bake until cheese is fully melted and bubbling at the edges. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serves 3-4.

Give this eggplant parmesan recipe a try and let me know what you think! I promise you’ll love it’s crisp texture and cheesy exterior.

Xo

Meggs

4 ingredients you need to add to your morning smoothie

Want to know something crazy? I drank an entire bag of spinach a few weeks ago. I did’t eat it, drank it. I think I turned into Popeye for a few days because there was so much excess iron chilling in my body… I’m ridiculous, but I just love spinach smoothies THAT much.

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I really wish the green smoothie trend has started when I was younger, it would have been a great way to get 5 year-old Meggie (who turned up her nose at every single veggie) to consume some greens. But guess what? Greens aren’t the only delicious and nutritious ingredient you can put in your smoothie. I’ve got a whole host of new ingredients to try in your morning blend!

  1. Cauliflower

TIU cauliflower smoothie

This might sound gross, but I swear you can’t even taste cauliflower in your smoothie once it’s been riced (blended up in a food processor and drained of excess moisture.) Plus, the nutritional benefits are out of this world: it’s packed with Vitamin C & K as well as fibre (super important to get in first thing in the morning.) It also has beta-carotene which is an antioxidant and is great for your skin and overall eye health!

Give it a try in this tropical smoothie from Tone It Up!

2. Nuts & Legumes

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By adding nuts to your morning smoothie, you’re getting extra protein so you’ll feel fuller longer. It’s a great option for people who don’t like eating breakfast. I like to add almonds or walnuts but feel free to experiment with any nuts you like. My personal favourite is this cinnamon bun smoothie made with walnuts!

Cinna-bun Smoothie:

  • 2 tbsp walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup of rolled oats
  • a frozen banana
  • 1-1/4 cups almond or other nut milk
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp of orange zest
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon (plus more for garnish)

Start by blending the walnuts & rolled oats until grainy. Add remaining ingredients and serve with extra cinnamon on top!

3. Beans

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So beans in a smoothie may sound a little weird but they provide a great creaminess and lots of extra protein to keep you fuller longer! This one uses white beans but I’m curious to try some other kinds… Get the recipe for this blueberry coconut smoothie from Mind over Munch!

4. Powders

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A great way to pack in some extra nutrition is through superfood powders like spirulina and maca. Spirulina is actually made from algae it’s high in chlorophyll (what makes plants green if you remember middle school biology) Vitamin B1, calcium, iron and can help balance out your blood sugar. It’s also rumoured to have as much protein as an egg in just one teaspoon! As for maca powder, it’s rich in amino acids, can help relieve menstrual pains and so much more. It’s also been called nature’s libido booster! (I’ll let you read between the lines on that one..)

Try maca in this peanut butter maca smoothie

Try spirulina powder in this smoothie bowl (although it’s also great on mermaid toast!)

What special ingredients do you like to put in your smoothie?

XX Meggs

Pinterest home decor hacks!

Confession: I’m a home decor junkie.

I could spend endless hours watching DIY home decor, cooking and seasonal decorating videos. There’s just something comforting about coming home to a space that’s well, you. And nothing beats the smell of a home cooked meal after a long day at the office or unwinding underneath freshly washed sheets and a yummy smelling candle. It’s these little pleasures that make a home, well, homey!

However, I find balancing my want to have a chic and aesthetically pleasing space without breaking the bank can be tricky. My boyfriend and I are moving into a new place in a few months and lets just say my desire to have a Williams-Sonoma catalogue kitchen doesn’t exactly fit into our Ikea post-grad budget! So, we’ve had to get creative when it comes to getting the most for our buck. But thankfully, that’s our forte. Even if you’re not creative or handy, I wanted to share a few simple DIYs that will help you transform your space for way less money

1.  Marble tabletop

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I’m in love with the marble trend for home decor! But is it worth investing +$300.00 in a trendy piece of furniture that could go out of style in a few years? No way. Which is why these marble adhesives are brilliant. Simply take an old table, sand it down, paint it and cover the top with this gorgeous marble pattern and bam! You have a marble-topped table that’s perfect for all your Instagram coffee posts (basic but let’s be real we all do this!)

This tutorial is super helpful and walks you through the process step by step!

2. Gallery wall

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By the time you invest in special frames and custom prints, a gallery wall can cost you hundreds. Why not invest in simple, affordable frames (I have had these ones from Ikea for four years and they’ve stood the test of time, I just keep replacing the photos.) Then you can add any photos/graphics you want. Why not try making your own prints with Photoshop or Illustrator? I like to do a mix of prints and photos of family and friends to keep it personal and to remind me of all the people that make me happy!

3. Planters

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Studies have shown that growing herbs and plants in your home is fantastic for your health. You can read up on the benefits of various herbs and decide which ones you want to have, purchase them at your nearest home depot and plant them in an inexpensive planter pot (I’ve come across minimalistic white ones at the Dollar Store that are identical to $20.00 versions!)

4. Discount brands= your new best friend

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I definitely don’t need a white Le Creuset Dutch oven but oh em gee do I want one. I’ll admit that I’m a bit of label lover when it comes to big ticket items, but I can’t afford to drop $400.00 on just one baking dish! I highly recommend reading reviews and searching discount stores like Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and Homesense for affordable alternatives to brand name pieces. I was in Homesense this weekend and found a Cuisinart Dutch oven for $69.99! This list from Buzzfeed has some other great brands that will save you money without costing quality!

5. It doesn’t have to be perfect

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My favourite from my grandma’s teacup collection!

As much as I love Instagram, Pinterest and all other forms of visual social media, it can put a lot of pressure on us to have perfect looking lives, homes, closets, et. Which is why it’s important to remember that the best homes are homes filled with memories. I’d rather have a cup that tells a story than a cup that is #trending on Instagram. So don’t be afraid to shop at thrift stores or use your grandma’s china at dinner parties. Instead of lusting after the latest Kate Spade dinnerware set, focus on the memories and the stories behind the pieces you have. I love having tea with my girlfriends and using my grandmother’s old tea cups and saucers and my boyfriend takes such pride in his beer glasses he’s collected from bars all over Europe. Our walls are covered in his old hockey jerseys and quirky postcards from our travels. These are the items you can’t get in a catalogue but are special because of the story behind them.

What are some of your favourite home decor hacks?

With love,

M xx