Thursday, February 04, 2016

Spinach power salad with citrus vinaigrette

This is a salad of superheros, filled with all kinds of healthy proteins, leafy greens and sweet, fresh citrus. After indulging over the Christmas holidays, and again during a winter getaway to the sunny shores of St. Martin, this kind of healthy eating is exactly what I was craving. I'm the kind of person who needs carbs at every meal, so I tried a trick I picked up in a men's magazine and added some quinoa. I loved the pearly crunch it lent to the dish. This recipe is my own and serves 4-6.

To make salad:

Wash and dry one bag of baby spinach. 

Peel and section 6-8 mandarins. 

Finely slice 1/3 red onion. 

Dry saute 1 cup whole almonds in a frying pan over medium-low heat until fragrant and starting to brown. 

Cook 3/4 cup quinoa with a mixture of 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup pineapple juice. I let it cook a tad longer than the instructions called for to get the bottom a bit crispy.

Shred 1-1/2 to 2 cups of roasted or rotisserie chicken. 

Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl.

To make citrus vinaigrette:

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup champagne vinegar, 1/4 cup of pineapple juice, the juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, 2T lavender honey (can substitute regular honey), 1 tsp minced garlic. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. You can adjust the amounts depending how tart you like your vinaigrette.

The vinaigrette has a tendency to separate, so pour it into a small Mason jar and shake vigorously before using. Allow salad to absorb vinaigrette for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Any leftover vinaigrette can be refrigerated for future use.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Turkey, mushroom and pepper strata

Let me just say, I did this blog post a huge disservice, visually speaking, by sprinkling Guiness-flavoured cheddar on top of my dish. Most cheese turns a nice golden colour under the broiler. Cheese that's already brown ends up looking like shiny black worms... Let's move on.

I took my ham-and-pesto strata recipe, stripped it down to the essentials - bread, eggs, cheese and milk, then built it back up with new ingredients: turkey scallopini, portobello mushrooms, diced tomatoes, peppers. The peppery sharpness of whole grain mustard lent a nice savoury touch to the dish, as did a stronger cheese.

For the uninitiated, here's how wikipedia defines strata: "[...] brunch dish, similar to a quiche or frittata, made from a mixture which mainly consists of breadeggs and cheese. It may also include meat or vegetables. The usual preparation requires the bread to be layered with the filling in order to produce layers (strata)."

xx

To make, pat dry approximately 500 g of turkey breast scallopini. Dredge in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, then shake off excess. Heat 1T oil in a hot pan and sauté turkey for 1 minute per side, until browned. If the turkey is still a little pink in the middle, don't worry as it will finish cooking in the oven. Remove the turkey and set aside. Lower heat slightly, and add more oil to pan. Sauté four portobello mushrooms, three red or yellow peppers, and 1/2 small onion all cut into 1/2" dice, plus 2 cloves minced garlic, for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Slice a day-old whole grain baguette into slices 1" thick. Spread whole grain mustard on half the slices and canned diced tomatoes on the other half. Top the tomato slices with the turkey and vegetables, then add the mustard slices to make mini sandwiches. Line the bottom of a 9x12" baking dish with the sandwiches placed on their sides. Sprinkle about 1 cup grated cheddar on top (I used a Guiness-flavoured cheddar). In a bowl, whisk 5 eggs with 2-1/4 cups of milk, and pour this on top of the cheddar. Cover the baking dish and place in fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to let the bread absorb the eggy milk mixture. Sprinkle a little more cheddar on top, then bake at 350°F for 35 minutes.


{a more appetizing photo}


Monday, January 11, 2016

Slope style

All this image is missing is the dancing flames of a crackling fireplace and a steaming mug of cocoa. I'd also take a mountain full of fresh powder...

I did get to wear this for a equally wintry pursuit: a New Year's Eve get-together at a log home, nestled on a rural property filled with snow-capped trees. In Great White North tradition, we played flip cup in the garage. Our clunky winter boots were lined up on our feet and - because our friends are getting to that age - the baby monitors were lined up on the workbench, ready for one parent or another to slip away.

I was 13 weeks along in this photo and my bump was just starting to protude :) I can see these fleecy leggings (a $7 Winners find) and this adjustable top being in frequent rotation over the next few months!

xx

 

 




Top - Charlie via Laura
Leggings - Winners
Scarf - Halogen via Nordstrom
Socks - Brand unknown
Earrings - Hand-me-down

Monday, January 04, 2016

Some news from a second glance

Hope you all had a fun and festive holiday, filled with good food, warmth and laughter. Ours was extra-special this year. I'm happy to announce that
 B and I have a little one on the way in 2016 
We are over the moon with happiness. 


I could have renamed my last post 'trying to pass for a non-pregnant person at work'. Even though my wardrobe options are getting more limited, I'm looking forward to styling my growing bump!

xx

Monday, December 21, 2015

What I've been wearing lately

My style these past few months has been all over the map. While we wait out this unseasonably warm and rainy autumn, I've been playing around with 70s elements - fedoras, furry vests, tassel necklaces - while also mixing in my tried-and-true classics like striped button-downs paired with loafers. I even experimented with some new trends, like head-to-toe monochrome and cropped knitwear (yes, you CAN make this work for the office).

With a thank you to my husband for patiently taking all these photos in one shot yesterday, here's what I've been wearing lately...

xx

 


Dress - Banana Republic 
Cardigan - Alison Sheri, consigned
Hat - Rag & Bone via Nordstrom
Necklace - Consigned
Boots - Aquatalia





Pants - DKNY outlet
Top - Forever 21, clothes swap
Earrings - Market in Thailand
Belt - Cole Haan, consigned
Shoes - Coach Outlet




Dress - Blumarine, consigned
Vest -  Brand unknown, purchased in Bratislava 
Earrings - Aldo
Bracelet - Hand-me-down
Shoes - Coach Outlet


 

 
 
Jeans - Guess via Winners
Top - Hudson Room, thrifted
Necklace - Hand-me-down
Earrings - Gift
Shoes - Cole Haan via DSW, dyed red





Dress - Calvin Klein via Winners
Cardigan - Neiman Marcus
Necklace - Banana Republic
Shoes - Coach Outlet




Jeans - Banana Republic
Blouse - Adrienne Vittadini via Saks Off Fifth
Necklace - Road Trip
Shoes - Via Spiga via Saks Off Fifth





Pants - Elie Tahari via Saks off Fifth
Tank - Winners
Jacket - Gap, consigned
Necklace - Gordana
Boots - Aquatalia


Jeans - Habitual 
T-shirt - Banana Republic
Vest - Brand unknown, purchased in Bratislava 
Hat - Rag & Bone
Earrings - Gift
Bracelets - Aldo Accessories & hand-me-down
Booties- Aldo



Top - Forever 21
Skirt - Femme de Carriere
Earrings - Le Chateau
Shoes - Via Spiga via Saks Off Fifth

Monday, December 07, 2015

Pulled pork sandwiches with tomatillo salsa and crunchy coleslaw

My last post was on September 25. Have I really been AWOL for the better part of three months?? What have I been up to? Working, a LOT. Travelling. Visited one of my besties in Manhattan where we ate and drank our way through some of the most incredible restaurants and bars the city has to offer. Nursing back-to-back colds. Which had better mean I'm off the hook this winter. Planning a winter getaway to the sunny shores of St Martin. And jotting down outfits I failed again and again to photograph the day I wore them ;) 

After such an extensive absence, it's only fair I come back with a bang. Trust me, this dish is EVERYTHING. 

You know the expression, 'necessity is the mother of invention'? In this case, I needed pulled pork with the most minimal of prep. I took a bunch of shortcuts on my usual recipe, and tried new ingredients by way of hoppy beer and coffee grinds. I wound up with the most wonderfully juicy, flavourful and fork-tender meat. We served the recipe below to dear friends in town from Australia and they RAVED about it. We all went back for seconds. And by seconds I mean thirds. The long and short of it: you need to make this NOW.

To make pulled pork:
This makes enough for about four people but any leftovers can be frozen. 
Place a 5-lb bone-in pork butt in the slow cooker. Add 1 can of IPA beer, one cinnamon stick, 1/4 cup BBQ sauce, 2T regular coffee grinds, 2T of any pork rub spice mixture, 1Tsp onion powder and 1 tsp garlic powder. Cook on low overnight. 

Scoop out most of liquid, leaving about 1/4 cup. The scooped-out liquid can be frozen and reserved for another use (e.g. chili, soup, the next batch of pulled pork). Remove the bone and separate the meat using a pair of forks until it's stringy. The smaller the strings, the more sauce it can absorb. Add additional BBQ sauce and maple syrup in a 2:1 ratio until meat is well-coated. Add 2T cayenne pepper. Mix well, then cook on high for another 30 mins. 
 
To make salsa:
This recipe is adapted from my Rebar cookbook. 
Remove the husks from 4 tomatillos, then brush lightly with oil and broil for 10 minutes. Place in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade and pulse until finely chopped. Add 1/4 red onion, 2 cloves garlic, juice of 1/2 lime, 1 tsp pureed chipotle in adobo sauce, 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.
 
 To make coleslaw:
This recipe is my own. Using a food processor, finely shred 1/3 to 1/2 head of green cabbage, 2 carrots and 1 stalk of celery. Set aside. 

In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup mayo, 3T apple cider vinegar, 2T relish, 2T sugar, 1T horseradish, 3 stalks fincely minced green onion, 3 or 4 finely chopped pickled green beans (I used the Matt and Steve Extreme Bean brand), about 1T of the bean brine, and 1/2 tsp celery salt. Whisk well, then pour over cabbage mixture and allow to sit for an hour before serving. 

To serve:
Layer a ciabatta bun with pulled pork, salsa, coleslaw, then top with crispy onions and fresh cilantro.





Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bridesmaid's dress in style evolution




This coral bridesmaid's dress from my BFF's wedding in 2012 is an ever-evolving piece in my wardrobe. On her big day, it was full-length and worn with delicate jewellery. 




Then....
 
A year later, I had it altered it to knee-length. I wore it with a chunky pearl necklace and white-hot nails to ring in my birthday in Montreal. 


Then...

I wanted to breathe new life into the dress for a late summer wedding this year. My fitted black waxed denim jacket, a long beaded tassel necklace and buckled stilettos gave the delicate chiffon pleats some edge, and toned down the girliness.


The military style of the jacket seemed fitting: the wedding took place on a military base. 


To create a cleaner line for the necklace, I snipped off the fabric flower decoration on the bust and secured it to my clutch with a little double-sided tape.
 

It was a nice wedding, with lots of dancing and the chance to catch up with friends we haven't seen in a while. The weather was ominous, but what are a few grey clouds when you're wearing a colour this cheerful?



Dress - Bari Jay
Jacket - Paola Prata (consigned)
Shoes - Aldo
Clutch - Coach
Necklace - Consigned

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Birthday gifts in round boxes

I celebrated my birthday recently, and my hubby surprised me with a felt wide-brim fedora I'd been fawning over for weeks. It was outrageously expensive and I told him I'd kill him if he bought it. BUT he knows how frustrating it is for me to find hats that fit, and that's how I came to unwrap a round silver box from Nordstrom amid shrieks of excitement. After all, he said, aren't birthdays gifts meant to be the kinds of things you'd never buy for yourself? Some girls lust over Chanel handbags and Louboutin shoes. I lust over Rag and Bone hats with a size small tag. With its all-season slate blue colour, I know I'll get a lot of wear out of this hat in spring and autumn alike. However, I couldn't resist taking it out for a spin with a pair of summer print shorts, before the cooler weather sets in.

xx










Shorts - Vero Moda
Tank - 9/15 via Saks Off Fifth
Jacket - Saks Off Fifth
Hat - Rag & Bone
Shoes - Aldo
Necklace - Ardene

Monday, August 17, 2015

Roast vegetable quinoa with chicken and feta

Well, my couscous obsession is slowly morphing into a quinoa one. Plain quinoa tastes like pulverized cardboard, but dressed up with slow roasted vegetables, tender chicken and fresh herbs....wait, what were we talking about? 

My friend A and I created this dish through experimentation, for a picnic with a group of 14 friends, with leftovers for delivery to my parents and siblings. It's healthy and light, without sacrificing flavour - perfect for summer dinners. I've adjusted the quantities, and the recipe below would serve four. 

xx

To prepare the chicken:
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup walnut oil, 2T cherry balsamic vinegar, 1T maple syrup, 1T Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over four chicken breasts and marinade in the fridge overnight. I baked the chicken at 375°F for 15 minutes, turning once. It would also be delicious grilled. 

To prepare vegetables:
Wash and chop 1/2 bunch of asparagus, 2 small zucchini, 4 shallots and 2 red peppers into small pieces. Mince 1 clove of garlic. Toss vegetables and garlic with a little bit of olive oil, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast at 350°F for 45-60 minutes. 

To prepare quinoa:
Cook 2 cups of dry quinoa according to package directions.

To prepare vinaigrette:
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup finely chopped olives, 2T apple cider vinegar, 1T honey, 1T orange juice, 1T chopped preserved lemon, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 sprig fresh thyme, 1 tsp sambal oelek, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cardamom and 1/4 tsp salt.

Note: This vinaigrette was a mashup of leftover homemade olive tapenade and the honey-chile dressing from this recipe. Most of the ingredients could be substituted or omitted to suit different tastes. 

To assemble:
Gently toss the quinoa with the roast vegetables and vinaigrette. Top with slices of chicken, crumbled feta and freshly cracked pepper. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme for contrast. 


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Spinach and cheese ravioli with butternut squash, cranberries and pine nuts


I know this post is a little later than promised. Brad and I have been vacationing in the Maritimes and all the seafood noshing and sightseeing got ahead of me. 

Thanksgiving dinner is one of my absolute favourite meals. I'd eat it every week if I could. This dish brings together key holiday flavours - like cranberry, squash and sage - in glorious, glistening-with-butter harmony. Did I mention it's also a PASTA dish? This recipe serves six as a main dish, or eight as a side dish. 

xx

Cut one small butternut squash in half lengthwise, then scrape out seeds. Brush cut side with melted sage brown butter (recipe here), then place the halves cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast at 350°for an hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Cut the flesh away from the skin and dice into 1" cubes.

While the squash is cooking, thinly slice 1/2 small red onion and dice two yellow zucchini. Sauté the onion and zucchini in a small pan in sage butter over medium heat for a couple of minutes, until softened but still al dente. Remove the vegetables from the pan. Add 1/4 cup pine nuts to the pan and toast until starting to brown, shaking the pan frequently.

In the meantime, cook 1 kg fresh of spinach-and-cheese ravioli according to package directions (I use the brand Costco sells). 


Gently toss the pasta with the squash, zucchini, onion, pine nuts, 1/3 cup dried cranberries and 1/3 cup of melted sage butter. Serve piping hot.


Variation: For extra nutrients, add broccoli.