Barbeque Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I absolutely love making this recipe during the summer months. I tried a pulled pork sandwich at this one local restaurant two years ago. It was a really savoury sandwich, so I wanted to replicate it at home. Unfortunately, my recipe never turned out quite like theirs, so I gave up. Then a couple weeks ago, I had a few chicken breasts sitting in the fridge and I had no clue what to make for lunch. So I decided to try my attempts at a pulled chicken sandwich instead, using the new Kraft Brown Sugar barbeque sauce we bought to try this summer.
Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwich

While my intention was to just make a sandwich, I think I accidentally made a really great tasting pulled chicken sandwich! While I had a hard time "shredding" the chicken, I ended up cutting it up by the end, which worked good still! This sandwich is perfect for the summer months, combined with a nice tall cold glass of iced tea and a side of sweet potato fries! Enjoy!
Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwich

Barbeque Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Prep time: 15 min        Cook Time: 30-40 min           Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup barbecue sauce (I used Kraft Brown Sugar bbq sauce)
- Salt and pepper
- 6-8 buns (hamburger, kaiser, Hawaiian)
- Lettuce (romaine, iceberg, red leaf, etc)
- 6-8 slices Monterey Jack cheese (or mozzarella, gouda, cheddar, havarti)


Directions
1. Preheat BBQ grill to medium heat.
2. In a medium bowl, combine salt and pepper and 1/2 cup barbeque sauce. Add chicken breasts and ensure they are coated with sauce.
3. Cook chicken on grill until thoroughly cooked, about 15 minutes.
4. Shred chicken. In a frying pan over medium heat, add remaining barbeque sauce. Add shredded chicken and allow the sauce to brown a bit. This adds more flavour to the chicken.
5. Open buns and place cheese on bottom bun. Heat on grill for a bit. Add chicken and top with lettuce.

Variations:
Cook chicken breast using your own method on stove top instead of on barbeque.
Add more barbeque sauce on the top bun for added flavour.

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Real Costs of Striving For "Higher"

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Today I am going to pour out my heart into what I strongly think is happening to many attending or completing post-secondary studies and are born in the 80s and beyond. While some of you might not be experiencing it, which is great; others might happily agree with me, having more to add to it. And that is fine - we all have opinions and have all gone through different experiences. I am sharing my experiences and what I have been seeing become more of a norm recently.


As I look around my group of friends and former classmates from university, I begin to see a common trend - we are all stuck. Stuck right where we are. Comparison to previous generations, we "should" be at the point of starting our lives, getting married, having kids, and having a career instead of a job. However, many of us are still living at home, working at places we wouldn't like to call a career, and waiting for something, anything, to come up. We are not able to apply our post-secondary knowledge to any relevant work experience. This is the same knowledge that "promised" us a great career, the knowledge that "assured" we would have a beaming future, and the knowledge that is drilling a hole into our bank accounts faster than they are extracting oil.

It is a fact that current costs of pursuing post-secondary studies is higher today than it was even a decade ago. Many students are suffering with loan repayment after they graduate, sinking deeper and deeper into debt as the years go on. And that debt has been increasing drastically throughout the years. The current educational system has become more of a lucrative business that is only selling to the highest bidder. Costs of anything related to higher education seems to skyrocket. Textbook prices are disgustingly high, and newer editions keep spewing out of the printers that make re-selling old textbooks nearly impossible. Cafeteria "food" makes many student want to throw-up at the sight, and is somehow more expensive than fancy restaurants. Higher than needed parking passes and parking problems make you want to just take the bus (even if it takes two hours to get to school). And don't even get me started on the companies - cell phone, student credit card, and even fake jewelry companies - that come on campus trying to promote and sell their products, only to take more money from the already poor students. My common saying to these harassers during my undergrad and grad studies was "sorry I'm a student, and I'm poor".

And while enrollment is so high, job availability is far too low. We are only taught to consume and never question. Education has changed to be a product of consumption and it is being advertised to us that we must "consume" this product for our better good. It is crazy at the number of times I see commercials during a half-hour TV show advertising a local college or university, with that same common theme - a person stuck in the job they hate, went to school, got a degree and *bam* got that amazing job they were searching for their whole lives. Perfect! While this does happen, I question at what percent does it happen and what kind of job. The career that they dug themselves into debt to go to school, or the overworked and underpaid job that they have to stick to in order to avoid going bankrupt. These are those unanswered questions they - the corporation-minded universities - don't tell you about. But unfortunately, they cannot tell you all this.

I know far too many who completed teacher's college in hopes of becoming a teacher soon after graduating, but resort to minimum wage, part-time jobs because of the high competition for jobs. I have friends who have resorted to going back to school to try for another degree after only being able to find temporary or temp-agency jobs with their current degrees. I also know of many, many who are stuck working contract job after contract job, with no benefits and no stability or assurance of what is to come after the contract is complete. I am one of those people. I am currently in a contract job that promises me two months. I just came out of a five week contract job, and before that a three year contract job that started off as a three-month contract and only kept getting extended by a couple months at a time. And contract jobs are becoming the new trend in Canada and the US - short-term often underpaid positions with no benefits. And, at least in Ontario, your employment can terminate before the end of your contract. That is the sad reality of the current employment system.

Having said all that, I still think having a post-secondary education is of utmost importance. While I have outlined what many people might be feeling once they experience the real world of work, I would never change the choices that I have made before ever entering university. We learn something more valuable than what is learned between those four walls of a classroom: the freedom to choose, the ability to think, and the understanding to know right from wrong. Education is ultimate freedom for yourself, your family and your future.
"Education is the most powerful" quote by Nelson Mandela

In The Garden

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We have spent the past two weekends on our veggie and flower garden. We have such a wonderful space in the backyard filled with perennial flowers and plants, so we needed to fill in those void areas with beautiful annuals.
Annual flowers

These pretty oriental poppies are perennials that grow beautiful orange-red flowers that look like tissue paper flowers. They are very delicate!
Oriental Poppies

A few of our other pretty flowers, both annual and perennial.
This year, we decided to plant a cherry tree. We have a blackberry bush that we planted last year, still awaiting for the arrival of berries (hoping for this year). So we decided to add a cherry tree to our fruit collection. I know it will take a couple of years for the cherry tree to finally ripen and start producing cherries. But until then, we will give this little tree all of our love and care!
Cherry tree

We also have a small little section in the back where we have been planting our veggie garden for two years in a row. With out third year at this, we know what to expect in terms of space and how large our veggies grow. Our garden is about 4 feet by 8 feet, so we have enough to grow a few cucumber, tomato and pepper plants. 

The one thing I love about having our own veggie garden is picking your own fresh veggies whenever you need them! I am so happy we have some room for our own veggie garden! This is from just one week of not picking our veggies last summer, perfect for a fresh summer salad!

Chopula, Scizza and Chobs by Dreamfarm {Product Review}

Monday, May 27, 2013

I love to cook and bake, as you all can probably tell on my blog. I also love having a good set of kitchen tools and gadgets to help me prepare yummy and delicious food. When I discovered Dreamfarm and their amazing line of products, I was so fascinated by their collection of fun and clever kitchen tools that really change the way we work in the kitchen! If you haven't heard of this company from Australia, I highly recommend you surf on over to their website and check their products out! They have a wide assortment of products that I am sure will fit somewhere into your cooking routine!
I was given the opportunity to review three of their awesome products: Chopula, Chobs and Scizza. They all came in pretty packaging! I love it when products arrive in pretty packaging - it feels like Christmas for me!

Chopula
I was super excited to try out the Chopula, which is half spatula and half chopper. How many times have you tried to chop up something in your pan with your spatula or wooden spoon, only to make your dish look like not-so-glamorous shreds of food? Yup, it happens to me, quite often too!
Dreamfarm Chopula

The head of the Chopula is flexible, allowing for an easy slide under food. The side of the Chopula is strong enough to "chop" through whatever you are making, be it ground meat or eggs. It also has a bend in it's handle to hold the head up off the counter to avoid messy drips.

I tried using it with my brownies that I made this past week. It was super easy to cut through my pan, since using a knife damages my pans. The flexible head easily scooped out each brownie that was ready to be served!
Dreamfarm Chopula Review

Chobs
How many times have you had to wash your cutting board in between cutting your veggies and your meats, or had to use two cutting boards? Yep, this one always happens to me. But now that I have my handy Chobs product, I don't need to wash and re-wash my cutting boards! Chobs wraps around the corners of your cutting board and raises up your cutting board so that you use both sides of the board without having one side touch your counter or work top.
Dreamfarm Chobbs review

Dreamfarm Chobbs review

They also have non-slip coloured icons to let you know which side of the board is for veggies or meat. Chobs also expands to fit any thickness of cutting board.
Dreamfarm Chobbs review

Scizza
I think I am in love with this tool! I absolutely despised my old pizza cutting wheel. No matter how many different ones I tried, they were all pretty much the same: useless. Scizza is a pizza scissor. It has a non-stick nylon base that will not damage your pans or cutting surface, unlike the regular pizza wheel.
Dreamfarm Scizza review

The long 4-inch blades easily and completely cut through your food.
Dreamfarm Scizza review

The base easily slides under your pizza, the long blades easily cut through your pizza without affecting the toppings, and with a slight pinch of the blades you can serve each slice without the need to use another tool. Easy! I use Scizza on my homemade thin-crust pizza.
Dreamfarm Scizza review

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If you were fascinated by any of these products, you should definitely check out the other great products that Dreamfarm has to offer! 

Don't forget to follow them on Twitter and on Facebook for new future products and latest information!

Note: I was given the product for review. However, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own!

Insanity Program - Week 4 Update

Friday, May 24, 2013

Holy moly, I cannot believe I am done week 4 and about to start month 2! Time flies! I also cannot believe I stuck with it for this long. All those tiring nights, those lazy days, and those tasty temptations. But I stuck through it! And seeing that I only missed FIVE days from the entire month is pretty awesome! I guess I should have more confidence in myself and what I can accomplish!


I have to confess something. Due to the beautiful weather we had this past weekend, and the fact that it was a long weekend in Canada, I ended up skipping out on two exercise days. Yes, two. *sigh* But, if it makes you feel any better (since it makes me feel a bit better) - I didn't completely spend those days just sitting around. We were like busy bees this past weekend. We played tennis with our friends one afternoon, went for a long bike ride, and we worked on the garden - which I should add is a workout on its own especially since our soil is like cement, so loosening up the soil was a complete body workout. I woke up the next day completely sore!


Changes
I am starting to adapt to this new lifestyle. It has now become routine that I come home, eat dinner and then work out. No if's, and's or but's! I am trying to increase my sleep time as well, since I am just so exhausted every night. My body is still changing. My weight has stayed the same, but I am seeing more muscle around my legs and arms so I am hoping that I lost fat but gained muscle. I noticed my waistline, arms and thighs more toned and fit than what they used to be.

Food
I am still consuming lots of protein daily, as well as drinking lots of water. I have really started to see my hunger drop. However, some days I would feel just so starved after my workouts that I have to eat something large or else I feel that uncomfortable sickening feeling. I am not really craving any "unhealthy" snacks or meals, so that is making this whole program a bit easier!

On a side note though, I have noticed my skin looking better and better each day. I think it's the amount of water I am drinking. I have a bit of scarring from my acne during my teenage years, so if I knew early on that LOTS of water consumption would help clear it up, I would've definitely chugged on more water.

So I know you are probably wondering what I look like a month later. Here they are!



Need to catch up? You can read my week 1, week 2 and week 3 updates!
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Next week, week 5, is the recovery week and then I jump into month two. I will give you all an update on week 6 instead. Have a great weekend!

Meet Sparky {Guest Post}

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hi there! I'm Sparky! My fur-mommy has been busy recently that she asked me to write this post for her lovely readers! While I thought this will interfere with my regular sleeping schedule (I tend to sleep during the days while my fur-mommy is working) I made sure to sleep extra long yesterday so I can be awake and write to you all today!

I am a fun and energetic one and a half year old beagle. I love to meet new people, and everyone loves to pet me. I mean, come on, look at me! No one can resist those eyes :)

I love chewing on everything. While I did chew on the carpet when I was first adopted, my fur-parents were very very angry so I decided to quit that habit. Now I love, love, LOVE chewing on my toys!

Oh and don't forget about food - it seems like there is never an end in my tummy! I love food! Anything that my fur-mommy or fur-daddy stick in their mouths I just want to try it too. So what do I do when I see them munching away and not sharing??

I give them the STARE! You know...the how-dare-you-eat-food-without-sharing-with-me-your-cute-beagle stare!

I have to say, this technique works VERY well...most of the time! I think they caught on, because this technique hasn't been working as much as I want it to recently. Maybe I should try to give them the sad puppy eyes! You know which ones...

I am a weird beagle. I tend to find small and tight places so I can curl up into a tight little ball when I sleep. I don't know why but this position is always the most comfy one!

I know my fur-mommy loves to share my baby pictures, so I will share some with you! Don't worry - I never share any naked bath time pictures of me like my fur-mommy loves to do...that is SO embarrassing!

I always love meeting new people, so please say hello! Don't worry, I don't bite (maybe just lick you until you tell me to stop!).

Homemade Thin Crust Pizza

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

homemade thin crust pizza

I love making homemade pizza nowadays. I bought the hubby a bread machine this past Christmas and we have been experimenting many different recipes, including making our own pizza. It is so much better than any frozen or takeout pizza we have bought in the past. Plus, we control what (and how much) toppings to put.

Homemade thin crust pizza

Homemade Thin Crust Pizza
Prep time: 10 min (plus additional 30 to allow dough to rise)        Cook Time: 20 min           Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp garlic spread, melted (optional)
- Toppings and sauce of your choice


Directions
1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add yeast mixture and stir to combine. Beat well until a stiff dough is formed. If the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Cover the dough in olive oil, to prevent hardening of the dough, and allow to rise until double in size, about 30 minutes.
3. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a large disk. Starting from the centre of the disk, lightly press and stretch out the dough towards the edge of the dough. Continue with this method until you have about 1/4 inch thickness. Transfer your dough onto a lightly greased pizza pan.
4. Spoon your desired amount of tomato sauze onto the pizza. Add your favourite toppings. Bake at 450°F for 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Brush crusts with melted garlic spread if you wish.

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Insanity Program - Week 3 Update

Friday, May 17, 2013

First off, thank you so much to all who have either emailed me or commented on my posts regarding my fitness program. It is great to hear encouraging words from you all, and I always love getting comments on my posts! It helps me keep going! I am at the end of my third week of my nine-week journey. It has been a bumpy journey, that's for sure!


Week three was a tough one for me. I definitely felt more muscle soreness this week, which many times made me think if I should rest until my muscles were better. However, the only day I took off this week was Tuesday, and that was to go bike riding instead (not as many calories burned, but still physical activity!).


Changes
I have been noticing lately that I have become more crankier than the other two weeks (sorry dear hubby!). I think it is a combination of little sleep (for some reason 7-8 hours is not enough for me nowadays!) and less sugar intake. I think this was my body crying out for some sugar and some sleep! I have {tried to} avoid anything with refined sugar all week. I snack on fruits or make smoothies when I have sugar cravings. Or I have been eating the sweet cinnamon flavoured CheeCha Puffs (yes they have sugar, but I limit myself to how much I consume, and sometimes I definitely needed it).

Food
I have really started to increase my protein intake by eating more meat, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and oatmeal. With MyFitnessPal, it is so super easy for me to see how much of proteins and nutrients I get in a day. Based on the daily reporting, I have noticed that my calorie intake is low as compared to the recommended caloric intake of 1790 (as per the nutritional guide calculator). I consume about 1500 on average a day. It is mostly from the fact that I am just not that hungry! I try to snack at work on yogurt or nuts, but I just feel so full. Not sure why this is happening. Maybe once I start month 2 I will be a lot hungrier. To give you an idea of what my meals look like, this is what I have been eating this week:

Breakfast (7am) - Oatmeal with strawberries and blueberries; or Apple Cinnamon Cheerios cereal with 2% milk. I would also bring some green tea in my Libre tea glass for work.

Snack (10am) - Cottage cheese; or vanilla Greek yogurt.

Lunch (12:30pm) - Leftovers: Homemade broccoli soup (recipe to be posted soon!); or homemade pizza (recipe to be posted soon!); or stuffed peppers

Snack (2pm) - Mixed nuts trail mix; or Activia yogurt; or fresh fruit (pineapple, strawberries, grapes, apples)

Dinner (5:30pm) - Homemade broccoli soup (recipe to be posted soon!); or homemade pizza (recipe to be posted soon!); or stuffed peppers; or grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and veggies.

Post-workout (8:30pm) - Fresh protein smoothie (sometimes I got hungry and had a bowl of cereal again instead of smoothie!)

I am also drinking lots of water a day!! I have read somewhere that you should drink half of your weight in ounces. So I try to do that as well by drinking about 70 oz a day, which is something I probably never did before! This is an easy one to keep track of for me during the days at work - I bring my Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle, which holds 27 oz, and I make sure to drink one bottle in the morning and one after lunch. Then I drink as much as I need when I get home and during my workouts.
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Catch up on my previous updates:

I will give you all a fourth week update next week! Have a great weekend!

I'm sharing my journey with the "Non-Scale Victories" linkup at KTJ Weighing In

Summer Fashion

Thursday, May 16, 2013

It has been a very long and cold winter here in Ontario. It seems like we only get about 3 months of true, hot weather and then 9 months of mediocre and cold weather. And it truly sucks. But hey, who am I to complain, especially considering that in some areas there were reports of snow last week. SNOW....in MAY! Yep. So I will close my mouth and shush!

With June on its way and the summer days not too far ahead, I can't wait for the cute summer dresses, skirts and shorts that are just dying to come out of my closet! (Sorry summer clothing...you have been cooped up in my closet for a very very long time!). Here are some cute pairings and clothing for 2013.
1 // 2 // 3
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Healthy Trail Mix

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Since starting my Insanity workout program, I have been really conscious of what I snack on, eating only what helps fuel my body for those insane workouts at night. These snacks also help to fill my hunger between my main meals, since I try to eat every three or four hours during the day. Since I work all day, it is easy for me to keep track of what I snack on. I have always brought healthier snacks with me to work, such as yogurt and fruits, but really wanted to increase some healthy nutrients as well (and besides, yogurt gets boring after a while!). So I purchased a few raw, unsalted nuts and bring a handful of them to work now, as well as dried apricots.


Nuts are so healthy for your diet. They provide your body with the nutrients it needs every day. Nuts are rich in dietary fibre, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fats and antioxidants. I make sure to pack them for easy convenience at work or on my long commute home after work. Plus I eat a few slices of dried apricots due to the high concentration of iron they have.

Spinach and Berry Protein Shake

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Recently, ever since I purchased my Hamilton Beach Single Serve blender, I have been going crazy and making smoothies and shakes every day! I blend both veggies and fruits for a nutrition-packed drink. I also make sure to add Greek yogurt or a scoop of protein powder for an added boost of protein, especially since I started the 60-day workout challenge and have been working out every day. I try to use fresh fruits, but for a "smoothie" type of feel I use frozen berries and blend them frozen instead of using ice. It tastes so much better! Enjoy!

Spinach and Berry Protein Shake

Spinach and Berry Protein Shake
Prep time: 5 min        Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients
- 1 small handful spinach, rinsed
- 1 cup mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup almond milk (or you can use skim, rice, goat, or soy)

- 1 tbsp flax seed (or hemp, chia seeds) (optional)
- 1 scoop protein powder (optional)


Directions
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

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A Daily Dose of LOL

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and a very nice Mother's Day!

Some funnies to help kick off your work week! Happy Monday everyone!

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(Note: I do not own any of these images. They belong to their rightful owners)
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