Friday, June 26, 2015

Taco casserole

Some of you may recall my 'build your own Italian sandwich bar' post from a few months ago. This is the opposite. This is 'I can't be bothered to lay out the taco fixings in little individual bowls so it's all going in a single casserole' post. Bonus: it can be made ahead and cooked at the last minute. This recipe serves 4-6.

xx

To prepare, finely dice one onion and one clove garlic. Add 2T oil to a heavy-bottomed casserole pot and cook the onion and garlic over medium-high heat, stirring regularly. Add 1 pound of lean ground beef and cook until no longer pink. At this point, you can add whatever vegetables or beans you have on hand - I used 1/2 can black beans, 3 finely diced red peppers and 1 cup corn. Add 1 jar of medium-hot salsa and stir well to combine. Cover the top with crushed tostadas and grated cheese (I used a combination of mozzarella and cheddar but Manchego would be nice). Top with pickled jalapeño slices. Bake the casserole without a lid at 350°F for about 25 minutes. You can broil for a minute or two at the end. 

Serve with shredded iceberg lettuce and a squeeze of lime.



Saturday, June 20, 2015

Teal/mint

This skirt is the bottom half of a lovely peplum-top-and-pencil-skirt combo, but it feels too dressy for an average workday. Lately I've been wearing the skirt on its own with loose-fitting blouses or tops. This one - a steal at at RW & Co sale - has a sheer V-shaped panel at the neckline and a keyhole back. At the office, I usually wear it with a chunky necklace or an infinity scarf for a bit of modesty. 

Since my new job I'm also up and down from my desk a lot more, so flats and low heels are in heavier rotation. These are my first pair of pointy-toed flats and I ADORE them. You get comfort and elegance in one. Bonus that they're the perfect matching shade of deep teal!

xx










 

Skirt - Femme de Carriere
Blouse - RW and Co. outlet
Scarf - Sirens
Earrings - Swarovski
Shoes - Via Spiga via Saks off Fifth

Monday, June 15, 2015

Doors Open Ottawa

 Earlier this month, B and I kicked off a weekend date day with a visit to Doors Open Ottawa. Doors Open is a free annual event where dozens of buildings around the city open up to visitors for behind-the-scenes tours and visits. This year, we checked off a local coffee roastery, the Supreme Court of Canada, and a posh, members-only social club with spectacular views of Parliament.

Boyfriend jeans and a casual white tee delivered casual comfort on a sunny early summer day, and acted as a canvas for accessories like a military-style vest, a floaty scarf and dangly earrings. Low-heeled suede booties were ideal for spending a couple of hours on my feet.

xx

{Dwarfed by the Supreme Court building}




 
{Supreme Court of Canada - source}
{Rideau Club - source}
{Bridgehead Coffeehouse - source}

Jeans - Gap
Tee - Elie Tahari
Vest - Calvin Klein via Winners
Booties - Aldo
Bag - Dooney & Burke
Scarf - Sirens
Sunglasses - Shoppers Drug Mart

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Spicy southwest chicken with couscous, carrot and brussel sprout medley

This chicken has some bite to it thanks to pureed chipotles in adobo in the marinade, which was repurposed from my Rebar cookbook. Couscous, fresh and crunchy carrot and brussel sprouts, sweet currants and crispy sage (my own combo) round out this dish. This recipe serves 4-6.

xx 

To prepare the chicken:
To prepare the marinade, place 2 roasted red peppers (canned or fresh), 1/4 head roasted garlic, 2 chipotles in adobo, 1 peeled shallot, 2 tbs rice wine vinegar, 2 tbs fresh lime juice, 2 tsp maple syrup and 1/2 tsp salt in a blender. With the blender on low, slowly pour in 3/4 cup olive oil. Pour the marinade into a ziploc bag, add 12 chicken thighs and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Bake the chicken at 375°F for about 25 minutes, turning once.

Prepare the couscous:

Cook 1-1/2 cups dry couscous according to package directions, substituting vegetable broth for the water.

To prepare the vegetables:

Wash and trim about 1 lb of brussel sprouts, 3 large carrots and 6 green onions. Using a food processor fitted with the slicing attachment, thinly slice the vegetables. 

To prepare the crispy sage:

Heat 1 tbs oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Quickly sauté 1/2 cup sage leaves until bright green, turning once. Dry on a paper towel.

To prepare the salad:

Gently toss together the couscous and vegetables, along with 1/2 cup of currants. Top with chicken and crispy sage.



Sunday, May 03, 2015

Quinoa patties with spring vegetables and feta

After seeing a recipe for quinoa patties with spring herbs on pinterest, I was inspired to try my own version. I decided to use up some leftover mashed sweet potato by adding it to the mixture, and made it more of a whole meal with finely chopped vegetables. The patties won't hold their shape as easily as burgers, so handle them gently. You can add an extra beaten egg to the mixture if needed. 

The end result was amazing. It's now one of Brad and my favourite recipes on the blog. The lightly crisp coating of browned panko and quinoa contrasted nicely with the tangy creaminess of the feta, while fresh vegetables added a burst of flavour. This recipe serves four. If you're heading to a famers' market today, you may want to get the ingredients to try this yourself!

xx

Cook 3/4 cup dry quinoa according to package directions. While the quinoa is cooking, place 6 white mushrooms, a large handful of spinach, 1/2 cup peas and 6 stalks green onion in a food processor. Pulse for several seconds, until finely chopped.

In a large mixing bowl, gently combine the vegetables, cooked quinoa, 3 beaten eggs, 1/3 cup mashed sweet potato (I'd mashed mine with a bit of margarine, orange juice and maple syrup), 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup crumbled feta, 1T dried thyme and 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper.

Gently shape in palm-sized patties. Pour enough vegetable oil in a large pan to just coat the bottom, and heat the oil over medium. Working in batches, add 3-4 patties to the pan and cook for several minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom. Use a large spatula to flip the patties and cook the other side.



Friday, April 24, 2015

Orange-soy glazed roast chicken

This post was based on my friend LV's recipe for restaurant-style orange chicken. I used her sauce recipe to marinate a whole roast whole chicken, rather than fried chicken pieces. I served the chicken on a bed of sticky rice, ginger-steamed baby bok choy and mushrooms. This recipe serves 4.

xx

The make the sauce, whisk together in a medium saucepan 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon grated orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger root and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
Mix two tablespoons cornstarch with two tablespoons water and set aside. Bring mixture in saucepan to a boil and slowly add the corn starch mixture, stirring frequently until thickened. When sauce has cooled, put the whole chicken in a large bowl and pour the half the sauce over. Marinate for several hours, occasionally spooning the marinade over the chicken. 


Roast the chicken at 400°F for 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours, depending on the size of your chicken. Baste with the juices every 20-30 minutes. The chicken is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare 2 cups of sticky rice according to package directions. You can substitute some or all of the water with chicken broth for extra flavour. 

Wash and coarsely chop 12 baby bok choy and quarter about 15 mushrooms. Place into a steamer basket and steam over boiling water seasoned with several pieces of sliced ginger.  

Serve the chicken over the rice and vegetables. Garnish with sesame seeds and minced green onion, and serve sauce on the side.



Monday, April 20, 2015

Beachy

In February, Brad and I had a soul-soothing little getaway to Fort Myers Beach with some of my family. It was the best kind of vacation - sleeping in, going for long walks on the beach, biking around town, having family meals after watching the sun set and making the occasional foray off the island for shopping or a date night.

xx









Shorts - Forever 21
Tank - Lorelai via Road Trip (also here)
Necklace - Claire's
Cardigan - Ted Baker outlet (also here)
Shoes - Vince Camuto outlet
Sunglasses - Shoppers Drug Mart

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Strawberry balsamic and rosemary chicken with couscous salad

Couscous has been a saviour on weeknights. Even if we get home late, it's ready in a matter of minutes and its neutral flavour can be married with all kinds of ingredients. Make-ahead marinating chicken can be popped in the oven and there's no need to dial for pizza. This dish serves four.

xx

To prepare the marinade, whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup strawberry balsamic vinegar (I used a delicious one from Kingston Olive Oil Company), 2T grainy mustard and 1T dried rosemary (double or triple this amount if you're using fresh herbs). Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a large Ziploc bag and add four boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Marinate for several hours or overnight. 

Bake the chicken at 350°F for about 20 minutes, turning once.

Prepare 1-1/2 cups dry couscous according to package directions. Finely dice 1 small cucumber, 3 Bosc pears, and 1/2 red onion. Add to the couscous, along with 2/3 cup dried cranberries. I added 1/4 cup of leftover hazelnut crumbs, but in a pinch you could add slivered almonds instead.Toss gently to combine. 

Slice the chicken and serve over top.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Canadian's guide to jackets: the denim jacket

This is the thirteen (and final) post in my 'A Canadian's guide to jacket' series. I hope you've enjoyed it!


xx

THE FORECAST: Sunny summer day, 27°C, but dropping to 19°C in the evening

THE OCCASION: Walking home after a fireworks show

THE JACKET: Boxy dark denim jacket

Denim jackets are my favourite warm-weather coverup because they're versatile and tough-wearing. They can be surprisingly pricey, though. I got this one on sale at Saks Off Fifth. Truth be told, I still find myself lusting after the one that got away: a faded denim beauty that fit like a glove and cost four times as much as this one. I guess it's lucky I forgot where I'd tried it on! I love the look of rugged denim jackets with feminine pieces, like silk sundresses or coloured denim and floaty tanks. No need to worry about colour matching: denim acts as a neutral and goes with anything!

xx






Jacket - Saks Off Fifth
Dress - Gap via thrift store
Shoes - Vince Camuto outlet
Hat - Forever 21

Thursday, April 09, 2015

A Canadian's guide to jackets: the leather jacket

This is the twelfth post in my 'A Canadian's guide to jacket series'. 

xx

THE FORECAST: Sunny and 16°C

THE OCCASION: Movie date

THE JACKET: Button-up leather jacket

Oh happy day!! Pulling this jacket out storage in the spring brings the biggest smile to my face. It's a telltale sign that summer is finally on its way! There are lots of high-quality imitation leather jackets out there. However, if you're not opposed to wearing the real thing, and if it's in your budget to invest in one, DO IT. This one is made of a buttersoft material and barely shows its age after five years of regular wear (I treat it regularly and dry-clean it very occasionally). It was a splurge that's been every bit worth the investment. 

In a leather jacket, I look for a reputable brand name, pliable and even-looking leather, secure stitching, a good fit, and fun details. With this jacket, I was drawn to the asymmetrical buttons, a blazer-like shape, and split seams on the cuffs. Dark brown is a colour that can be accessorized for spring with pastel hues and boyfriend jeans, or fall with a cozy scarf and boots. 








Jacket: Danier Leather
Jeans: Gap
Top: Guess
Shoes: Cole Haan
Scarf: Sirens
Sunglasses: SMD eyewear via Shoppers Drug Mart






Jacket - Danier 
Top - Lululemon
Scarf - Gift
Jeans - Forever 21
Boots - Ecco
Earrings -